Scott Nulph — Sports Editor
When Cody Fuller and Bryce Bechtel tell people on the Oklahoma State campus that they fish for the school, they can get some strange looks.
But come about 3 p.m. Sunday they may get handed a national championship trophy — in bass fishing.
Fuller, from Maysville, Okla., and Bechtel, from Blackwater, Okla., will compete this weekend in the fifth annual Under Armour College Bass National Championship in North Little Rock, Ark., along with 69 other collegiate teams. There’s $15,000 in scholarships up for grabs for the teams that can catch the most weight of bass.
“We’re pretty excited,” Bechtel said. “I started to love fishing ever since my dad took me and had seen some things about college bass fishing. Once I found out that OSU had a group, I jumped in with both feet and have been loving it ever since.”
Bechtel earned a spot in the national championship with top-six finishes in the regional in late April in Tyler, Texas. And when a couple other OSU members couldn’t compete this weekend, Fuller eagerly filled the void.
“I was thrilled to have the chance,” Fulller said. “It’s something that’s in my blood so to fish for a national title is great.”
ESPNU’s cameras will be at the tournament all weekend to film the event. The tournament special will be aired Aug. 5 and 9. All 69 teams will fish the first two days on the Arkansas River, with three different pools to choose from. The final day, the field is cut down to 10 teams. Each team can keep up to five fish per day.
The duo, both juniors at OSU this fall, have spent the past couple of days pre-fishing. While both Fuller and Bechtel say that they’ve found a few hot spots, they’re both mum on where.
“We’ve found a few fish with some bigger size,” Fuller said. “But we’re still working things out. We’ve covered a lot of water so far, and we’ll do more when the tournament starts. But it’s one of those deals that when you’re on the fish you keep your mouth shut or the other teams will come right in and push you off the fish.”
And what would a national fishing championship mean to the two?
“It would mean an awful lot,” Bechtel said. “We don’t get any scholarships so we pay our way to all the tournaments out of our own pocket. We’ve got some sponsorships but to win this would be big for us and maybe to get some recognition as well.”