Students Angling for Half-Million Dollar Prize


The thrill of competition and devotion to a sport may snag two Hardin-Simmons University students a $500,000 catch, and the prize is just two tournaments away.

HSU bass fishing team members, Randy Sullivan, a senior economics major from Breckenridge, Texas, and Hubbell Allen, a history major from Graham, Texas, are primed for the upcoming March tournament that could reel in the biggest fish yet, a chance to advance to the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup Tournament.

Last October, Allen and Sullivan won the FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Invitational, competing against ten teams that included the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisiana, Baylor University, and Texas A&M University. That win earned the HSU club $4,000 and qualified Sullivan and Allen for the upcoming 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship, March 6-8, on Lake Keowee in Seneca, South Carolina.

“The Cowboy bass club’s 2013 season was one of the most successful campaigns ever recorded in College Fishing history,” said Dave Washburn, vice president of operations for FLW. “In the four events held in the Southern Conference, HSU won two and finished second in another.”

The first place victories earned the club a total of $7,000, which is used for club equipment and to help students with expenses incurred as they practice fishing skills.

“These guys treat bass fishing as a sort of science, and they are incredibly knowledgeable and strategic about the sport,” said Dr. Jana Wesson-Martin, associate professor of composition, director of the HSU Writing Center, and the fishing team sponsor. “Randy and Hub are both smart and strong competitors,” she said.

At the national tournament the HSU team stands to snag a new Ranger Z117 bass boat and advance to the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup, Aug 14-17, on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina. There, Allen and Sullivan will compete for the whopper of all wins, $500,000.

So far we are pretty confident in our ability to do well in this tournament,” said Sullivan. “In fishing, as with most other sports and competitions, confidence is key. If we believe in ourselves and in our game plan, we stand a tremendously greater chance of succeeding.” 

Sullivan and Allen scouted Lake Keowee over the Christmas break, which helped them to develop a plan for how the fish will be behaving during the days of the tournament. “Our competitors are really the fish. They are the ones we have to beat. I try to focus on myself and what I can do better rather than the anglers I am fishing against. I could be competing with the best in the world and I would still just be trying to beat the fish better than them,” philosophized Sullivan. 

FLW College Fishing teams compete in four qualifying events in one of five conferences across the country. The top 15 teams from each regular-season tournament qualify for one of five conference invitational tournaments. The top 10 teams from each conference invitational tournament advance to the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.

College fishing is free to enter, and FLW provides boats and drivers for each competing team, along with travel allowances. All participants must be registered, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year college or university and members of the school’s recognized fishing club.

Sullivan gives a great deal of credit to his parents for their support of his love of fishing. “My dad got me started on fishing and he and my mom supported me financially to be able to go and fish tournaments,” he said. “If I can qualify for the highest levels and get a reputation secured, I have the opportunity to make fishing my living. That will take plenty of time and effort but I’m certainly willing to put in both in pursuit of it.” 

The March tournament will be televised nationwide on the NBC Sports Network.


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