Catawba Valley Community College anglers Spencer Black and Nathan Dellinger have qualified for the Major League Fishing (MLF) National Championship after their performance this past week on Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.
Competing amongst a field of 229 boaters, Black and Dellinger finished in 21st place — clinching their national championship berth.
Red Hawk bass fishing head coach Angela Mayo said she is proud of her entire team’s performance, especially after the difficult conditions her anglers faced.
“There had been a tremendous amount of rain, and the water kept rising,” Mayo said. “In fact, it came up three feet in one day. On the second day of the tournament, it was cold and windy and it rained all day. I am so proud of Spencer and Nathan for keeping their heads in the game and not letting the weather get to them.”
The national tournament berth by Black is his first as a Red Hawk — a special accomplishment for the sophomore from Taylorsville, N.C.
“This is very special, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to do what I love while attending college,” Black said. “I owe everything to God and our college.”
Mayo is happy for both of her newly qualified national tournament anglers, but especially happy for Black.
“Spencer had some tough breaks and came close last year but never made the cut,” Mayo said. “After this tournament, every person on the team has now qualified for at least one national championship.”
To qualify for the MLF National Championship, boaters had to finish among the top 22 positions.
Dellinger and Black were in 16th place after the first day of competition, catching a five-bass limit of 13 pounds, 14 ounces.
“After the first day of practice, I was optimistic about putting together a good pattern,” Dellinger said. “We found somewhat of a pattern late on Sunday and expanded on it Monday. I wasn’t sure if it would hold up for two days. After day one, we were right where I thought we could be.”
Rain poured throughout the second day of competition, making fishing conditions extremely difficult.
However, Black and Dellinger once again caught a limit — this time weighing 12 pounds, 13 ounces — holding on to their top 22 spot and national tournament berth.
This will be Dellinger’s second MLF national tournament and third major tournament since becoming a part of the Catawba Valley Community College bass fishing team.
“Qualifying two times is awesome,” Dellinger said. “There are many college guys that never make it once. We couldn’t do it without the tremendous amount of support from the community, family and friends, CVCC and our coaches. Angela and John Mayo have gotten this program off and running, and I can’t thank them enough for giving me this opportunity. I just hope we have much better fishing conditions at the next National Championship tournament.”
Five Red Hawks total competed on Lake Chickamauga, including the tandem of Lane Bailey and Adam Seagle, who finished in 68th place with 16 pounds, 15 ounces of bass. The duo caught their limit during the first day of competition, but struggled on day two with the weather conditions, catching just one bass.
Competing by himself, the Red Hawks’ Justin Eggers finished in 147th place. Trolling motor issues, high winds and rough waters cost Eggers a chance to catch any fish on day one, but he responded by catching three bass weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces during day two of the competition.
Mayo said the drive and determination shown by her anglers in Tennessee shows just how incredible they are.
“This has been a special group of young men that have helped us build this program,” Mayo said. “It means a lot to me to be able to send every one of them to a national event.”