2021 HS bass fishing preview: Angling on a growth spurt

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 9/2/2021 12:01:18 AM
Modified: 9/2/2021 12:01:24 AM

Ask any successful high school sports coach and they’ll tell you: Nothing boosts the roster like winning a state championship.

White River Valley bass fishing coach Paul Feeney finds himself in that scenario this fall. The Wildcats surprised everyone — not themselves, perhaps — by taking states on Lake Champlain last September, with nearly 23 pounds of fish, led by senior Curtis Barry.

Barry has graduated, but championship partner Eddie Staples is back with eight other teammates who will have limited opportunities to impress Feeney enough to be included in the lineup for the VPA’s two tournaments.

Like White River Valley, Hartford remains deep, while Lebanon continues to grow its program. Mascoma will again compete in NHIAA tournaments as a club program. Windsor will not sponsor a bass fishing team this fall.


Coach: Aron Tomlinson (3).

Last year: Finished mid-pack at state championship tournament.

League: VPA Division I.

Returnees: Senior — Gordon Willey. Juniors — Will Burns, Alixzander Speckert-Ring. Sophomore — Connor Rice.

Newcomers: Freshmen — Kayleigh Dyke, Jack Grigsby, Derek Harrington, Thomas Gross.

Analysis: The Hurricanes are ready to get back to showing a level of excellence that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. A trip to the high school nationals in Wisconsin was nixed by the coronavirus, but Hartford received an at-large bid to June’s world finals in South Carolina instead and made the most of it, finishing 52nd out of 398 boats, tops among Vermont teams and fourth of New England’s entirety. That gives coach Aron Tomlinson a load of hope entering the VPA season.

“(Senior Gordon) Willey will anchor the group, and steady improvement by the sophomore and junior anglers will help the team,” Tomlinson said. “The incoming freshman are eager which should continue to strengthen the program.”


Coach: Mike Anakis (6).

Last year: Eliminated in state qualifying tournament. Junior varsity was fourth at its state event.

League: NHIAA Division I.

Returnees: Blake Boardman, Drew Sanchez, Liz Freeman, Joe Gile.

Newcomers: Hannah Giguere, William Grant, Henry Jones, Nick Moody, Caleb Swinson, Luke Greene.

Analysis: With the volunteer help of Lebanon firefighter Dan Huff to get a second boat on the water, Anakis is optimistic. “We hope to get more kids competing and move on from the state qualifier to the state championship tournament,” he said.


Coach: Paul Feeney (4).

Last year: Won state title.

League: VPA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Eddie Staples, Caleb Covey. Junior — Garett Laskowski. Sophomores — Maxwell Sulham, Nez Sulham.

Newcomers: Senior — Jamesen Roussel. Sophomore — Jacob Gray. Freshmen — Carter Colson, Jon Edson.

Analysis: Feeney has a wide varsity of people with on-the-water experience, but a number of them have limited bass fishing experience. With just two VPA events on the schedule, Feeney plans to give his Wildcats every opportunity to learn the vagaries of the sport so as to impress enough to make the roster for the state championship later this month.

“I’d like to give everyone a fair shake,” Feeney said. “If you’re a first-year or been there four years, they all have the same opportunity to make the championship.”

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