Commanders head to state in bass fishing

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By John Overby

With only 20 minutes to go in the regional bass fishing tournament, Michael Sandusky and

Michael Shelton knew they needed an upgrade. They had already caught their five-bass limit, but one of their fish was “barely a keeper,” according to Sandusky

Thanks to the switch to a shaky head worm, they got exactly what they were looking for.

The duo was able to kick their 12-incher and add a newly captured 14-incher to their bunch in the waning moments of the event.

That one move helped the two capture first place, winning the championship with seven pounds and 13 ounces.

Their margin of victory? Two ounces.

“We were sweating bullets right up to the end,” Sandusky, a Washington County senior, said.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has only recognized bass fishing as a sport for two years now, but each time, WC has been represented at the state level. Last year, then-freshmen Shelton and Thomas Smith earned their tickets to Kentucky Lake. Both of them will return this year, and they’ll be joined by sophomore Trevor Sagrecy (who partnered with Smith to take fourth place at regionals) and Sandusky.

Smith and Shelton both agreed that participating at state last year will be a big help for them this season.

“Last year’s experience really helped for this year, I think,” Smith said. “I’d never been in a tournament before, and it was really cool to see how it all turned out. I just had fun fishing. I’m glad I get to go back this year.”

“Getting out on Kentucky Lake, already experiencing it before, it’s going to give us some confidence going back,” Shelton added.

While the two newcomers—Sandusky and Sagrecy—acknowledged the experience would be new for them, they were both more focused on the competition they will be facing at the state level.

“I’m really expecting it to be a shootout,” Sandusky said. “The kids going in to state really have experience. It’s gonna be a challenge to win this tournament.”
“You didn’t have to qualify for regionals, so what we’re going up against at state will really be the cream of the crop,” added Sagrecy.

Expectations are high for the fishermen (“The expectation for any fisherman going into a tournament is to win it, and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Sagrecy said.), but for head coach Tim Messer, qualifying two boats from Washington County is an “incredible” accomplishment in and of itself.

With only 14 out of 66 boats at regions making it to the state tournament, Messer was impressed with the resiliency his student-athletes showed throughout the event.

“The whole team worked really hard this year,” Messer said. “We have a good group of kids all across the board.”

While the achievement is not lost on any of the athletes, it is especially fulfilling for Sandusky, one of only six seniors on the squad.

“For my senior year, to not only be able to fish in the state tournament but to win the regional tournament as well, it’s just like a dream,” Sandusky said. “This is what I love to do.”

The two-day state tournament will take place on April 25 and 26 at Kentucky Lake.

Because the site of the event is so far away (approximately four hours), Messer noted that “any donations would be greatly appreciated.”

“Hotel rooms, drinks, food — little snacks, little cakes, anything they carry on the boat —  anything that can help these guys out,” Messer said. “Anything at all would be beneficial to these guys because they are representing Washington County. Just contact me or one of the boaters.”