With the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship complete, the University of North Carolina Charlotte team of Jake Whitaker and Andrew Helms have proven themselves the best collegiate team in the nation, but because only one angler can be crowned overall champion and earn a berth in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C., today begins the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket. Sunday the Top 4 teams will launch on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Ga., to determine the winner-take-all champion in a head-to-head elimnation style bracket competition.
The teams, split up to fish individually from Nitro Z-8 boats are: Whitaker of UNC Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) and Robert Giarla of Tennessee Tech University; Zach Parker of Bethel University and Jackson Blackett of University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM); Brett Preuett of ULM and Matt Roberts of Bethel University; and Bentley Manning of Tennessee Tech and Helms of UNC Charlotte.
Hometown: Fairview, N.C.
Degree: Civil Engineering
What would it mean to win? “There were 168 guys fishing the national championship, and to be the one that comes away from the bracket as a winner and Classic contender would be something no one has done before,” Whitaker said. “It would be a dream come true.”
Hometown: Monroe, N.C.
What has this experience meant to you? “Getting to do participate in the championship, and now the bracket, has been a great experience,” Helms said.
Hometown: Jackson, Tenn.
What would it mean to win? “I want to do it for my friends and family,” Parker said. “It would mean everything to earn a Classic berth.”
Hometown: Pulaski, Iowa
Do you have professional bass fishing aspirations? “Oh yeah,” Roberts said. “I’d like to, but there are a lot of financial obstacles.”
University of Louisiana Monroe
Hometown: Alexandria, La.
Year: Graduated, with master’s in business
What would it mean to win? “I think about it all the time; I don’t want to have an office job,” Preuett said. “I want to fish full-time and make it to the Classic.”
Hometown: Monroe, La.
Years on team: Four
What would it mean to win? “It would be unreal to win the bracket,” Blackett said. “It’d also be a good way to my foot in the door in the fishing industry — a life-changing experience.”
Hometown: Cookeville, Tenn.
Do you have professional bass fishing aspirations? “Lord willing, if there’s way, I’d love to make a career out of fishing.” Manning said. “I do my best every time I go out there just to see if I can make it happen.”
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla.
What would it mean to win? “It would be a dream come true,” Giarla said. “Since I was five or six years old, I was fishing worms in ponds. Progressing this far has been amazing.”
ESPNU will present coverage of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship beginning Aug. 10 at 11 a.m. ET, and the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket will air beginning Aug, 17 at 11 a.m. For a complete list of airings, visit www.bassmaster.com/tv-schedule.
Fans can follow all the action on Bassmaster.com. Features include live-streaming weigh-ins, real-time leaderboards, on-the-water blogs, photo galleries, BASScam videos and daily results.
Local hosts for this event are the City of Hiawassee, Towns County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Towns County Commission and Young Harris College.
Image courtesy Shaye Baker/Bassmaster