Lenexa anglers Ryder Mains and Mason Chapman, of Legacy Christian Academy, sat atop the 194-team field after the first day of competition Wednesday at the FLW High School National Bass Fishing Championship on the Mississippi River in Lacrosse, Wis.
"It is so crowded, but that’s OK," Mains said on Thursday. "It’s cool being a part of such a big tournament. I’m so glad we qualified and we got to be here. We are excited to go out the next few days and fish hard!"
The duo weighed a three-fish limit of 11 pounds, 11 ounces, to jump out to the lead by more than a pound over Jace Anderson and Brayden Harcrow, of the Lukfata Falcons (10-2). The Central Dragons’ Jerry Brumbaugh and Hunter Klotz sat in third with a bag of 9 pounds, 15 ounces.
Mains and Chapman’s largest fish came just 15 minutes into the tournament, a 4.4-pounder.
"We caught fish throughout the day and upgraded throughout the day," Mason Chapman said. "It was a lot of fun. I felt like we’d be high in the standings, but I had no idea we would lead Day One. Very cool, but we just need to keep catching them the next couple days, too. I’ve never fished such a big tournament."
Chapman is the son of professional bass angler Brent Chapman, who served as boat captain for the team on Wednesday.
"It’s so exciting to see these high school programs and the opportunities that are available for your anglers now," Brent Chapman said. "The sport of bass fishing is growing and it’s awesome to see the enthusiasm and how well run these events are.
"I’m very proud of Mason and Ryder. They work hard and are both die-hard anglers. More importantly, they are great, young, new of character and a great team. I’m honored to be their boat captain for this event."
Shawnee Heights’ Parker Still and teammate Austin Chandler, of Ketchum, Okla., sat in a four-way tie for 49th after Day 1, hauling in a three-fish bag of 7-4.
"Went good," Still said late Wednesday. "Started off slow in the morning but we figured something out and started to pick up fish."
Fellow Topekans Logan Redeker, of Washburn Rural, and Ethan Haufler, also of Shawnee Heights, sat back in 94th with a Day 1 bag of 6-5. Kickback Club’s Garrett Torres and Sam Myers, both of Overland Park, were just a bit further back at 97th with a 6-pound, 4-ounce bag.
The big bass of the day came from James Alderman and Cole Davis, of the Bulldog Bass Club, at 4 pounds, 8 ounces. It was one of just two fish the anglers weighed, however, leaving them in 87th with a bag of 6-8.
The 194 teams were set to return to action Thursday, with just the top 10 teams advancing to compete in the final round Friday. The World Finals, which features 300 teams, is then set to take place Saturday as part of the dual event. More than $3 million in scholarships and prizes are at stake.
The winning anglers of the national championship also will then advance to the 2020 FLW Series Championship on Nov. 5-7 at Lake Cumberland, Ky., to compete as co-anglers and fish for the top prize of $30,000, in addition to each receiving a $5,000 scholarship to a school of their choice.