Polk State College’s Bass Fishing Team won the top spot in the Florida BASS Nation College Invitational and is moving on to the national championship.
Kyle Stafford, who graduated in May with his Polk State Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management, and Jake Stines, Polk State Associate in Arts student, reeled in 37.11 pounds on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes during the two-day tournament. The win qualifies them to compete in The Carhartt Bassmaster College National Championship Presented by Bass Pro Shops in October.
“Getting this win my senior year was the icing on the cake and I’m hungry to take on the next level in my post-grad journey,” Stafford said. “I feel privileged to have represented Polk State throughout my collegiate career and I will always be an eagle pursuing my on and off the water endeavors.”
Kyle Brewer, Polk State Associate in Arts student, and Trent Coleman, Polk State Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management student, placed third with 32.54 pounds.
The event was the largest Florida BASS National College series and included 11 college teams from Polk State, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, Liberty University, and University of South Florida. More than 100 junior and high school teams made the event “a little more challenging” for college anglers, Florida BASS explained in a press release, as well a tropical system that was skirting the eastern coast producing rain and winds.
But Polk State’s Bass Fishing Team members overcame these unprecedented challenges to earn the top spots in the tournament, and they are no strangers to success.
The Polk State Bass Fishing Team was chartered in 2012 as one of the first sanctioned fishing clubs in Florida.
In 2014, ESPN Bassmasters ranked Polk State’s Bass Fishing Team No. 5 in the south and No. 7 in the nation.
In 2018, the team won the Florida BASS Nation College Invitational and competed in the national championship for the first time.
In 2019, the team represented Polk State in the Fishing League Worldwide YETI College Fishing Championship. The Polk State Bass Fishing Team ranks No. 4 in the Fishing League Worldwide’s southeastern division, making it No. 1 in Florida.