Cooper and LeBlanc Virginia State Team Qualifiers

Cooper and LeBlanc Virginia State Team Qualifiers 2013

Jacob Cooper of Collinsville, VA walked away with the title of champion for the senior division of the Junior State Championship of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation held on Claytor Lake. No one came close to Cooper’s one day weight of 12.27 pounds. The weather was constantly changing and the rain was relentless.

The winner in the junior division was Benjamin LeBlanc of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. AHe had a total one day weight of 7.33 pounds with four fish. Dawson McGovern was a close second. Both Cooper and LeBlanc are dedicated anglers who are already preparing for the challenges of Lake Erie in July.

Cooper is no stranger to the team and will start his senior year at Bassett High School this Fall. He has been fishing since the age of five and started fishing with the Henry County Jr. Anglers at the age of ten in 2006. Cooper has qualified for the junior state championship every year since. He qualified for the Mid-Atlantic event that was held in Delaware in 2011 and finished in third place in the senior division. This year he gets to try again for a win in Erie, PA. 2013 has been a good year for him as he has had first and second place finishes in the qualifying events. Ben LeBlanc is another dedicated angler who fishes with the Warren County Junior B.A.S.S. anglers. He joined the club in 2011 and this is his first big win. LeBlanc qualified for this event at the second northern division event on Lake Anna this past October. According to his mother, Rosario LeBlanc, Ben is already doing his research to find out more about the lake and the location. LeBlanc is a student at Harpers Ferry Middle School in West Virginia and plans to continue to fish with the Warren County Club until graduation. While Cooper is a Virginia native, LeBlanc has ties to both Maine and Peru. Cooper and LeBlanc are the final two members added to the 2013 state team and will be able to enjoy this event because it will not conflict with school schedules. It would be quite unfair to not thank the adult anglers who sat in the rain for two days to make this event possible. This is probably the hardest job of the fishing season but without you it would not be possible.The 2014 fishing season starts with the Fall Classic and the team will fish the Mid Atlantic in Virginia. In order to start the qualifying process anglers must be a member in good standing for 2013. Virginia only has this opportunity every seven years

and 2014 is our year.

Butch Wilson Team Championship Winner

Photos by Stephanie Blevins/Copy by Joan Blankenship

Really stiff competition marked the final event for the 2013 Virginia fishing team competitors this year. There were also a lot of stories within the story. Butch Wilson of Virginia Bassmasters in region 7 led both days but he didn’t walk away without worrying until the last angler had weighed in. Day one, Wilson only had the lead by ounces. Day two he increased his margin a little more to end up with a total weight of 27.23. He only had nine fish but it happened to be the right nine. He has been a Federation member for 22 years and this is his first big win and first time on the state team. He has already started doing some research and has talked to others who have fished Lake Erie. Wilson is asking all of the right questions and will be a great team.

Big fish winners for this event finished in the forties but still brought home some money. Lyndon Johnson of Shady Tree Bassmasters had the day one big fish. Day two, Robert Majerick of Cool Branch Bassmasters came in with an even bigger fish but still only made it to forty-first place.

The comeback kid of the event was second place finisher Ray Tweedy. Tweedy was in thirteenth place on the first day and came in with a catch that moved him into second place. It was noted that Tweedy is also coming back from several years of rehabilitation from an automobile accident that occurred several years ago. Tweedy is no stranger to the state team and will be a great competitor. Another experienced team member finishing in third place was Eddie Fore. Fore has gone on to the national championship and is now hoping for a second trip. Sponsored by Richmond Marine and Triton boats, Fore is eager to win another trip to the national championship. Finishing in the fourth and final boater position is Brandon Reynolds who is another well known competitive angler who will make another very strong team member. In the non boating positions team members include, L.D. Kinsey, Ed Clayton, Mike Cumberledge, and Bryant Copley. Both Copley and Cumberledge have been on the team before. Copley went to the national championship in 2012 and is eager to go again and Cumberledge went in 2011. This time they have to have the best weight from other Virginia competitors. The only compensation for winning this event is as a team which makes competition both challenging and interesting.

The complete team will also include Steve Roberts and Frank Harris from the Fall Classic, Mark Bradshaw, Jeff Luger, and Christ Napier as first alternate and captain for the junior anglers from the Mr. BASS tournament on Lake Gaston as well as two junior anglers that will be determined in May. Since the junior angler’s weight is counted, their skill as a team member can be critical for a team win.

This event was significant for several other stories. We had the most women competitors. Susan Owens had over 16 pounds and is getting closer to the team every year.

Tyler Maschal. Junior Champion for 2012 almost made the team and several other younger members were near the top eight and did collect a check. Maschal finished in seventeenth place with a little over 20 pounds. Good enough for a check but not the team. He is a student at Virginia Tech and ineligible to compete as a junior any more.

Then one of the older members, Ed Clayton made the state team. He stated that it had taken him thirty years to do it. He stated that his goal was to make the team but he isn’t sure whether he has the stamina to take on the challenge of Lake Erie or not. Clayton is the classic role model for “Never Give Up.”

In what is considered the heart breaker position, Bill Goots, finished in ninth place. He may still get to go if Clayton decides to sideline himself. You know that he must have his fingers crossed.

Thanks to the Town of Clarksville and Conrad Enterprises, two people who did not get a check from winning did come home with cash from money donated for this event. Elaine Goots and Pete Szymanowicz split the pot for the drawing. We would like to say thank you Clarksville, Virginia and all of our sponsors for making this a great year for the members of the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation of Virginia. We also want to give a great big thank you to the Orange County junior anglers who pitched in to help and their advisor Becky Gore. In terms of a shortage of volunteers this event had to do the most with the least. Anglers who also helped are too many to name here but your assistance was appreciated. Gore wanted to be sure that adult anglers like Bill Goots, Bill Roberts, and Bryant Copley were appreciated by the junior anglers and will be the talk of the high school for weeks. Next stop for the team will be Presque Isle on Lake Erie and it will be in July this year. This could be a big win for us with several members with a lot of experience working as a team. One angler will move to the national event in Alabama and the rest of us will start working on 2014. The Mid Atlantic will be in Virginia in 2014. The final item is the club results. Taking first place was Appomattox Bassmasters with a total weight of 86.13 pounds. They will receive a free entry to the Team Championship in 2014. Second place team was Lake Gaston Bassmasters with a total weight of 78.23 and a free entry to Mr. BASS in 2014. The third place club was Backyard Bassmasters with 76.40 and a $100 toward Mr. BASS or Team Championship in 2014. Please join us and congratulate each and every club.

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