CALVERT CITY — The South Laurel Bass Fishing Team brought home its first state title over the weekend.
South Laurel’s Shawn Coots and Trent Keltner captured the 2019 KHSAA State Bass Fishing Championship on Kentucky Dam Marina in Calvert City on Saturday.
The duo took first place out of 88 teams by catching a two-day total of 10 fish that combined to weigh 32 pounds, 13 ounces. The South Laurel duo also brought in a 5-pound, 4-ounce bass to the scale on Friday to earn the KHSAA Big Bass honors on day one of the competition.
South Laurel Bass Fishing Coach Dennis Hammonds said this was the first year Coots and Keltner have teamed up to compete together but, he said, they seemed to have made the perfect pair.
“We’ve come close to figuring that lake out over the years,” said Hammonds. “It has took a lot of hard work from all our teams, all the coaches and boat captains for us to narrow it down and finally figure it out.
“This was a combination of the kids that fished — they’re really good fishermen — and those kids who have been before, comparing notes of what worked and what didn’t work. Trent and Shawn just brought it all together and made it work, so I’m just extremely proud of them.”
Hammonds said that after he saw the duo were among the top anglers after day one of the competition, he knew they had a good chance of coming out as champions. But it was when things got tough that he truly saw the duo prove what they could do as fishermen.
“That first day we knew they were on big fish — they caught 30 keepers the first day and they left the spot hoping the fish would stay there,” he said. “When they got there the next day, they (the fish) had moved, so Trent and Shawn had to scramble a little bit the last day to get a chance to win but they did a good job of that. They did a super job of being patient and working hard to catch them.”
North Laurel’s Brayden Bridges and Noah Creech took 15th place over the weekend with 10 fish weighing in at 20 pounds. South Laurel’s Hunter Jones and Jackson Douglas, who made a state record fifth consecutive appearance at the state tournament over the weekend, took 31st place in the tournament, with 10 fish weighing in at 17 pounds, 14 ounces.
Other teams who competed from London are North Laurel’s Brady Roberts and Joshua Cochran (53rd place, 15 pounds, 13 ounces), North Laurel’s Jackson Rush and Colby Joseph (56th, 15 pounds, 6 ounces) and South Laurel’s Isaac Mosley and Sidney Hale (60th, 14 pounds, 5 ounces).
“I would like to congratulate South for winning the state title,” said North Laurel Bass Fishing Coach Nathan Stewart. “I have been saying since the start of these events that Laurel County kids are the some of the best fisherman in the state, this proves it.”
Stewart also wanted to congratulate the three North Laurel teams that participated in the weekend’s tournament.
“Overall, I’m super proud of all three teams,” he said. “This was the first year for all three teams and they all learned so much. I am already looking forward to next year’s events.”
Both Hammonds and Stewart wanted to thank all their sponsors for the support this season, which helps make trips like the state tournament possible for the teams.
Hammonds said there were several people he wanted to thank for this season’s success and the support of the South Laurel Bass Fishing Team over the years.
“First thing, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to coach these kids,” he said.
Hammonds said he wanted to thank his assistant coach, Darin Reed, along with all the boat captains who have made the season possible for the South Laurel anglers. He also wanted to thank the South Laurel Bass Fishing Team sponsors for all their support over the years and the South Laurel administration for working so well with the team over the years.
“I also want to thank all the fans,” Hammonds said. “I can’t thank them enough—I want to thank all the fans that came out to support us.”
Hammonds said he was impressed to see so many fans show up to greet the team and congratulate them on their first state championship. He also wanted to thank one fan in particular, South Laurel Soccer Coach Joey Marcum, who attended the weigh in with his wife.
“I really appreciated that,” Hammonds said.