Four local high schoolers will bring their angling skills to the national stage.
A pair of two-man fishing teams from Walker High will compete in the 2018 BASS National High School Championship, which will be held Aug. 2-4 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.
Sophomore Hanson Chaney and junior Bronson Beck, ranked the No. 1 BASS high school fishing team in Louisiana, will join seniors Jason McMillan and Hunter Kogel, ranked the No. 4 team, in the national fishing showcase that annually draws more than 150 teams from across the globe.
This will be the second trip in as many years for McMillan and Kogel, who competed in the tournament last year to become the school’s first-ever national fishing tournament finalists.
Four regional high school opens — the Central, Midwestern, Western and Southern Opens — serve as qualifiers for student anglers hoping to reach the national championship. Top competitors from state high school championships and from sanctioned team trails can also earn invitations.
Twenty-seven two-man teams from Louisiana will compete in the national competition, including five from Livingston Parish. Joining the teams from Walker High will be the pairings of Brentyn Wheat and Christopher Smith along with Brock Bennett and Reid Rayborn, all from Livingston Parish Bassmasters, as well as members of the Junior Southwest Bassmasters Fishing Club of Denham Springs.
Local high schoolers Alex Heintze and Justin Watts of the Livingston Parish Bassmasters' team won the national title in 2015 after a 15-bass catch totaling 661 pounds.
Walker High began participating in the BASS High School competition four years ago.
“We have set the bar high for the future,” Ferachi said. “Already, we’re setting higher goals for our team for next year. This group has accomplished so much in just its first four years, it’s exciting to think about what’s ahead.”
The Walker High team is made of several two-man fishing teams that compete in state tournaments. Points are earned for the quantity and quality of fish caught during those competitions.
Teams compete in a total of five tournaments during the season, including three state qualifying tournaments. Seven of Walker High’s teams qualified to fish in this year’s state championship tournament, with two finishing in the top 20 out of 155 teams: Mason Ferachi and Luke Ferachi, who placed fifth, and McMillan and Kogel, who earned 16th.
All told, Walker High had four teams finish the year ranked in the top 20 in Louisiana out of a possible 247 teams.
Along with the teams that qualified for the national tournament, freshman Peyton Matherne and senior Lance LeBlanc placed 14th in the state, while juniors Brennan Richard and Mackie Faucheaux teamed up for 16th place.
Members of the Walker High School fishing team may be eligible for scholarships to continue competing in BASS fishing tournaments while attending college, Ferachi said.