Hayden sophomore Thomas Heinen and Overland Park’s Brock Bila, representing Capital City High School Club, joined Clifton-Clyde’s Gavin Koch and Matthew Barnes as the latest Kansas teams to clinch a spot in Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship last weekend.
Koch and Barnes won the B.A.S.S. Kansas High School State Championship on May 6 at Big Hill Reservoir, catching 11.27 pounds of fish to advance to nationals, which will take place June 22-24 at Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn. Heinen and Bila, the second-place team with 10.34 pounds of fish, also advanced as the top two teams from the championship automatically qualify for the top tournament in high school bass fishing.
“Well I started out with it because I had a feeling they would hit it,” Heinen said. “The conditions were great for it. Brock started out throwing a Whopper Plopper. After I caught a few keepers on it, he switched to a Senko and then later he went the the rig and other finesse baits. We had one blowup on topwater and that was it. The rest of the day we threw finesse. I stuck with the Ned Rig the whole day.”
Noah Skolnick and Josh Flynn, representing the Kickback High School Team, took third place with a total of 9.43 pounds, followed by Matthew Gerber and Daniel Gutgesell, Kickback, 9.25 pounds; Kyle Simmons and Brett Halstead, Capital City, 7.51 pounds; Chase Jahay and Joshua Roth, Buhler, 7.47 pounds; Brett Estrella and Garret Beck, Buhler, 6.85 pounds; Kadyn Smith and Aidan Boettcher, Circle, 4.93 pounds; and Remington Wagner and Zach Vielhauer, Kickback, 2.72 pounds.
The top two teams will be joined at Kentucky Lake by DeSoto’s Connor and Dylan Nimrod, who qualified by placing sixth in the Costa Bassmaster Central Open, as well as the teams of Wagner and Vielhauer, a first-team Bassmaster All-State pick; Hunter Baird and Nick Davenport, representing Capital City High School Club; and Trevor Whisenant and Brett Lasley, also representing Kickback High School Team. Baird and Davenport qualified as Team Trail Champions, while Whisenant/Lasley placed first and Wagner/Vielhauer took second at the Costa Bassmaster Midwest Open to qualify.
“It’s always a good feeling to be representing your state in a big event like this,” Heinen said. “I’m just so happy we’re going! The experience will be what matters — we’re going to give it our all — but just being there is the hype for us! We’re in it to win it; just thankful we have the opportunity to go. Only few teams from each state get this privilege and I am going to enjoy every moment of it.
Heinen and Bila, who both were picked as honorable mentions on the Bassmaster All-State team, qualified for the state tournament after finishing second during a snowy qualifier tournament on La Cygne Reservoir in March that saw water temperatures in the low 50s. Baird and Davenport won that qualifier.
“I am really looking forward to nationals. Ever since I started competitive bass fishing, I wanted to take it to another level. I am just so grateful for the support I have along the way.”
Heinen and Bila also are fishing this weekend at Stockton Lake in Missouri for the TBF/FLW High School Open.
In the youth division, Maxwell Douglas and Parker Phillips, representing Kickback, won the state championship the following day with a weight of 12.21 pounds, followed by Nick and Kyle Herrman, of Topeka Jr. Hawgs, with 11.98 pounds. Drake Reyes and Logan Baechle, of Kickback, took third place with a weight of 8.47 pounds. Douglas and Phillips are unable to attend the youth national championship in June, so the Herrmans instead will represent Kansas in the tournament.
Results May 6
At Big Hill Reservoir
1. Gavin Koch/Matthew Barnes, Clifton-Clyde — 11.27 lbs
2. Thomas Heinen/Brock Bila, Capital City — 10.34 lbs
3. Noah Skolnick/Josh Flynn, Kickback — 9.43 lbs
4. Matthew Gerber/Daniel Gutgesell, Kickback — 9.25 lbs
5. Kyle Simmons/Brett Halstead, Capital City — 7.51 lbs
6. Chase Jahay/Joshua Roth, Buhler — 7.47 lbs
7. Brett Estrella/Garret Beck, Buhler — 6.85 lbs
8. Kadyn Smith/Aidan Boettcher, Circle — 4.93 lbs
9. Remington Wagner/ Zach Vielhauer, Kickback — 2.72lbs
Teams Representing Kansas at the High School National Championship this year and how they qualified:
Gavin Koch/Matthew Barnes, Clifton-Clyde — State champions
Thomas Heinen/Brock Bila, Capital City — State runners up
Hunter Baird/Nick Davenport, Capital City — Team Trail champions
Connor Nimrod/Dylan Nimrod, DeSoto — Sixth at Costa Bassmaster Central Open
Travor Whisenant/Brett Lasley, Kickback — Costa Bassmaster Midwest Open, 1st place
Remington Wagner/Zach Vielhauer, Kickback — Costa Bassmaster Midwest Open, 2nd place
Youth State Championship
Results May 7
At Big Hill Reservoir
1. Maxwell Douglas/Parker Phillips, Kickback – 12.21 lbs*
2. Nick Herrman/Kyle Herrman, Topeka Jr. Hawgs — 11.98 lbs
3. Drake Reyes/Logan Baechle, Kickback — 8.47 lbs
4. Gage Mains/Ryder Mains, Kickback — 7.26 lbs
5. Cash Faubush/Brady Johnson, Kickback — 5.80 lbs
6. Cooper Line/Mark Bauer, Kickback — 1.57 lbs
*Douglas and Phillips are unable to attend the youth national championship in June so the team of Herrmans’ will represent Kansas.