The University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) fishing team has ascended to the top of the 2013 Cabela’s School of the Year rankings for the second, and final, time this season. The Warhawks of ULM jumped out to an early lead approximately one third of the way through the season, and they’ve remained in the top five since that time. Their recent performance in the final ACA-sanctioned competition of the season has positioned them as the top collegiate fishing program in the country, having amassed 907 points on the water.
The Warhawks have been a contender in the Cabela’s School of the Year race since the inception of the program in 2012, which ended with a second place ranking for the team. In 2013 they topped 212 different collegiate fishing programs in what proved to be a tight race. The University of North Alabama Lions laid claim to the runner-up position, with 871 points. The Bethel University Wildcats, which have been red-hot all season, finished third with 866 points; followed by the Racers of Murray State who fell from first to fourth in the final event of the season, ending with 846 points. Georgetown College rounded out the top five with a total of 833 points; meaning a mere 75 points separated the top five programs in the country.
According to Paul Clark, the outgoing president of the ULM fishing team, “When we ended up second last year we were at the ACA Collegiate Bass Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake and it was very bittersweet for the team. On the one hand our young program was the second best in the country, so we were proud. On the other hand, we weren’t satisfied with coming that close and not finishing on top. We have a team full of competitors and we found a lot of motivation on that long drive home to do it better in 2013. We decided on that last day of the 2012 program we wanted to end 2013 as champions.”
The Warhawks did exactly that; they will end the 2013 program as the Cabela’s School of the Year. Clark went on to add, “We had a serious talk at the end of last season and we committed then to fish anything and everything that would allow us to earn points for this program. We hit all the student-ran sanctioned events in our region and we logged a lot of miles to get this done. Between national competitions with the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Series, as well as BASS and FLW, our team of ten guys has fished their tails off this year with great success. It has been awesome and I’m happy to have been a part of it. It feels good to graduate and leave this program on top.”
Clark, who graduated in May, was president for three years and involved in the program throughout his collegiate career. When asked about turning over the results of his hard work to a new president, Clark added, “I’m totally comfortable with the transition. Nick Ladart has been Vice President the past couple of years and has worked on this project since his freshman year. It is his turn to be President and I’m leaving it in very capable hands. It should be a smooth change for our team. Between second in the Cabela’s School of the Year last year, a national championship with FLW College Fishing this year, and now being the official 2013 Cabela’s School of the Year, we’ve got some amazing momentum for Nick and the rest of the teammates to work with.”
When questioned about taking the reins of such a hot program, new president Nick Ladart commented, “I’m absolutely honored to be president of the number one club in the country and I feel great about our future. We’re losing Paul and a couple of other guys, but we have a real strong group of anglers wanting to join the program. Due to our recent success, we actually have anglers picking ULM as their school of choice because of the fishing program. I’m getting all kinds of calls from guys wanting to get involved. We have traditionally kept our club pretty small by choice and it looks like I’ll need to work on that to meet all the demand.”
If the phone is ringing now, it will certainly continue to do so, as more publicity will certainly be coming to the University of Louisiana Monroe. With the distinction of Cabela’s School of the Year, come tremendous exposure opportunities. The rise of the ULM Warhawks will be featured throughout the Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Television Series, as well as an episode of Americana Outdoors. In addition prizes, courtesy of Cabela’s and sponsors of the Association of Collegiate Anglers, will be making their way to Monroe, Louisiana. Collectively over $10,000 in Cabela’s gift cards and a variety of prizes will be awarded to the top three teams of the Cabela’s School of the Year race.
The full final top ten includes:
- University of Louisiana Monroe
- University of North Alabama
- Bethel University
- Murray State University
- Georgetown College
- Arkansas Tech University
- North Carolina State
- Dallas Baptist University
- University of Arkansas
- University of Tennessee Martin
Images courtesy Association of Collegiate Anglers