GUNTERSVILLE, Ala - Oakman Middle School's fishing team has brought home a state championship title.
The Oakman Middle School Bass Club came out on top in the junior division of the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association's State Championship Classic at Lake Guntersville on Saturday.
Twelve of the team's 14 members competed in the championship. Oakman Middle School's Bass Club had six boats in the competition, with two anglers and a captain on each.
The two top boats with the highest weigh-ins from each school helped to determine the junior division state champions. Overall, Oakman Middle School's Cade Hartley and Gage Gant won third place boat in the tournament, with a weigh-in of 8 pounds and 27 ounces. Oakman Middle School anglers Peyton McLemore and Troy McLemore's weigh-ins were combined with Hartley and Gant's to secure the junior division win.
Oakman Middle School Bass Club sponsor Jessica Thompson said that due to COVID-19, the team missed out on many competitions during the school year, but the championship was still held on Saturday.
She said the team was thrilled to win a state championship in only their second year as a bass club.
"They were incredibly excited," Thompson said. "They did so well. It's a huge accomplishment."
No spectators were allowed at the championship tournament due to COVID-19; however, Thompson and others had the opportunity to watch a live stream of the event online.
Thompson said she hopes the junior division title will inspire more boys and girls to join the school's fishing team.
"I hope that this motivates more kids to join next year and be passionate about this because it really is great for the kids," Thompson said.
She added that being on the fishing team isn't just about learning the skill of the game.
"It teaches them teamwork, and it teaches them public speaking because when they weigh-in they do talk to them and ask them questions," she said. "It teaches them respect for the environment and respect for other people. It's a lot of teamwork and a lot of perseverance.
"You have to persevere, because, sometimes, you're not catching any fish, but that one fish can be the difference between being the state champion and not being the state champion. Literally, it was one fish that made the difference."
All members of the Oakman Middle School fishing team include Brodey Hartley, Eli Kilgore, Cooper Nichols, Luke Martin, Peyton McLemore, Will Woods, Blaize Gant, Weston Morrow, Cade Hartley, Gage Gant, Camden Williams, Troy McLemore, Carter Tisdale and Riley Blackwell.
Team captains are Jake Hartley, Grant Nichols, Lowell Gant, Kevin McLemore, Chad Gant, Junior Williams and Pete Blackwell.
Oakman Middle School will enter their third year as a team this fall.