SAN ANTONIO, TX – Consistency, determination, skill, and a little bit of luck. These are all different elements that are required for a school to be crowned Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia. This year-long race is widely considered the most prestigious title in all of college bass fishing. Schools plan their year according to which tournaments offer them the ability to earn valuable School of the Year points. The team that capitalized best on their opportunities and won the 2018-19 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year presented by Abu Garcia is McKendree University.
“I was a nervous wreck all day. It was until the very last wire when we realized that the pressure went away and that overwhelming feeling just came over me,” said Jon Rinderer, Head Bass Fishing Coach at McKendree University. The Bearcats claim the title by beating out their nearest competitor by more than 800 points. It took a solid two-day performance, and a unified team approach to pull off this monumental accomplishment. “Feels pretty good, to be honest. We’ve done this all year, just been consistent. That’s how it happened, we did this together,” noted Bearcat angler Ethan Jones.
Trevor McKinney and Blake Jackson pulled up to an offshore spot near the launch site around mid-morning. As I sat under the tent working on the blog, I was able to watch them cast crankbaits and jigs up current looking for that next bite. Within minutes of the pair dropping their trolling motor in the water, their Head Coach walked up and took a seat as well. Knowing what was at stake on the final day of the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, Rinderer was extremely anxious about what was in store over the next few hours. “I take a light blood pressure pill every day, and it didn’t get the job done today. My blood pressure was through the roof,” he said.When a team battles all year long to win a coveted title such as the School of the Year, they have to overcome obstacles and hold off challenging teams. “Going in with a big lead is always tough because it’s easy to blow it especially with this Championship. There are some guys here that are good on the Tennessee River,” said Blake Jackson. When you look back and analyze the race for a title, there is always a defining moment for the eventual winner. For McKendree University, that moment came at roughly 10:00 AM on day two within sight of takeoff.
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