In the latest wave of coronavirus related bad news to hit the Texas fishing scene this year, officials with the Texas High School Bass Association announced on Thursday afternoon that they are cancelling the group’s state championship tournament later this month at Lake Belton.
According to THSBA president Tim Haugh, who delivered the news in an announcement on Facebook, the decision was made after host community Temple alerted the group that the event was being put on hold for now among rising concerns about recent trends in the state’s battle against COVID-19.
"We have taken a deep look at everything — COVID cases on the rise, two-thirds of our qualifying teams coming in from COVID hotspots like DFW and Houston, (and) uncertainty, daily," Haugh said in the video. "With all of that, our board has made the hard decision to cancel state and the (Angler of the Year) challenge. The sole reason for that is looking out for the health and safety of our students and boat captains."
He went on to say that the decision was extremely difficult for himself and the group’s board of directors.
"We’ve had a lot of concern about whether we’re doing the right thing," Haugh said. "It’s weighed really heavy on me personally, as the head of this organization, if we’re doing the right thing. So, I put it to a vote this morning, should we proceed or not, and our board voted to cancel."
The THSBA president noted that he realized many would not agree, especially since drive-through weigh-ins allowed the regional competitions to take place a few weeks ago. But when Temple put the event on hold temporarily, options became limited at that point and the board’s decision was forced.
The decision to cancel the Texas state high school bass fishing championship and the Angler of the Year event is another bitter blow for Lone Star State student-athletes who have already seen sports like baseball, softball track and more taken away from them in recent months due to the coronavirus outbreak.
That includes several Texomaland high school teams that qualified for the July 25 state championship event on Belton thanks to their efforts at the recent North Texas / Metroplex Division regional tournament last month on Lake Ray Roberts, where a team had to finish no worse than 68th to qualify.
The Pilot Point team of Tyce Riney and Jimmy Hover took the regional title with a total of 13.91 pounds.
Sherman High’s squad of Tate Bethel, who is also the Bearcats quarterback during football season, and Jonah Guedea were also on the Top 10 leaderboard at regionals, thanks to their seventh place finish. While they weighed in three bass at 9.20 pounds for spot, they finished only a half-pound out of the Top 5.
Other THSBA state tourney qualifiers from the Texoma area included: Gunter's Colten Lankford and Boone Self (25th place with 6.25 pounds); Van Alstyne's Conner Loftice and Michael Burnside (29th, 5.49 pounds); Gunter's Sean McClure and Jacob Hales (31st, 5.40 pounds); Tioga’s Logan Westbrook and Tanner Yant (34th, 5.24 pounds); Van Alstyne’s Tanner Santee and Sam Petelski (40th, 4.87 pounds); and Van Alstyne’s Ryland Jennings and Jake Carroll (41st, 4.78 pounds).
Rounding out the list of THSBA state qualifiers from our local area were Sherman's Derek Baker and Phoenix Grant (48th, 4.09 pounds); Whitesboro's Jacob Dobbs and Carson Hickman (52nd, 3.62 pounds); Pottsboro's Charles Holder and Tyler Farris (53rd, 3.61 pounds); Gunter's Ryan Cassidy and Antonio Latham (60th, 3.15 pounds); Pottsboro's Colton Creswell and Riley Deaton; (61st, 3.05 pounds); and Gunter's Lane Dophied and Bleize Parker (65th, 2.48 pounds).
While these local high school bass fishing teams will have to wonder about what might have been — like so many other student-athletes around the area this year — they can rest content in the knowledge that they gave their best, represented their schools and communities well and had a chance at winning it all at the state bass fishing tournament.
But it wasn’t meant to be and in the wake of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, knowing that you were good enough to make the last dance of high school bass fishing will have to be enough for now.
Congratulations to all of the local teams that made the THSBA state tournament and best of luck in your future, both on the water and off.