A two-man team of anglers from UNC Charlotte won the national championship of college bass fishing on Saturday.
Jake Whitaker and Andrew Helms won the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Chatuge Reservoir in northeast Georgia.
As camera flashes popped and the ’80s classic “ The Final Countdown” blared in the background, Whitaker and Helms strutted to the front of the stage and held up the winning fish.
It’s the biggest win in the short history of UNCC’s 15-member club, the Bass Rats.
“This is big for us,” Helms said in a statement. “Maybe this will get more people interested, and our club will grow.”
Whitaker and Helms caught 15 fish over three days, for a total of 38 pounds, 9 ounces. They edged the second-place finishers by 8 ounces.
UNCC’s club team has only been around for a year, meeting in campus buildings, seeking out sponsors and holding club tournaments on Charlotte-area lakes.
Helms and Whitaker were one of 84 teams that competed last week. The five teams with the highest cumulative weight totals advanced to Saturday’s final.
The final weigh-in had a game show-like quality, with Whitaker and Helms standing onstage next to their closest competitors.
“This fish needs to go 11 pounds, 5 ounces for Bethel (University) to take home the trophy,” the announcer says on a video posted by Bassmaster. “If it’s not, UNCC wins.”
A few seconds pass and then the announcer said: “Ten pounds, 12 ounces. UNC Charlotte has done it!”
Helms and Whitaker received $2,500 each to help pay their fishing expenses.
With Saturday’s win, Whitaker and Helms nabbed a spot in the Carhartt College Series Classic Bracket for the top eight individual college bass fishermen. Both were eliminated in the first round on Sunday.
Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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