The Virginia Tech bass fishing team will compete for a national title this weekend.
The team will head to Kentucky Lake Thursday to participate in the 2011 FLW College Fishing National Championship. The FLW ranked the team No. 4 in the preseason.
The team will send junior Carson Rejzer and sophomore Jody White to the championship.
Rejzer and White finished fourth at the FLW College Fishing Northern Regional tournament, securing their spot in the championship.
Last year, the Hokies sent two teams to Fort Loudon Lake in Knoxville, Tenn. Each finished in the top 20. This year, just one team qualified — duo Rejzer and White.
Senior Wyatt Blevin, team president, said it was disappointing to send just one tandem to Kentucky Lake.
“I was one of the guys who fished in last year’s national championship,” Blevin said. “I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to go back.”
In 2007 the team made quite a splash, winning the Under Armour College Bass National Championship. Since then, the Hokies have remained competitive, but they have yet to win another championship.
“We’ve had multiple top-five and top-10 finishes in the FLW,” Rejzer said, “which is now the most prestigious league in the whole college sport.”
Throughout the year, the Hokies have traveled to nearby Claytor Lake and Smith Mountain Lake. To prepare for Kentucky Lake, Rejzer and White have been putting in extra time and effort.
“We spent all of spring break there (Kentucky Lake),” Rejzer said. “Everyday I look at water levels, temperatures, the weather and any reports that might come out.”
Blevin said water temperature will play a big factor in the competition, especially this time of year.
The team will face stiff competition this weekend. Eastern Kentucky will have an advantage, considering the university’s close proximity to the lake, according to Blevin.
“It’s kind of hard to compete with the local teams,“ Blevin said. “We can do well, but the chances of us winning are a lot slimmer the farther we go away from home.”
Although the Hokies will likely be satisfied with a top-five finish, Rejzer and White are hoping to come away with a national title. For the team, success this weekend could translate into greater recognition from Tech’s administration.
The team is a student organization and funding continues to be a struggle. Although the team does receive some of its winnings, a portion of the money goes to Tech.
“We really need to see if the university can give us that money back that we’ve won for them,” Blevin said. “They use it for scholarship money anyways, but I think it would help us out a lot if we could keep it in the club.”
Despite their struggles, the team remains confident about the future.
“Hopefully we can get a couple more championships,” Rejzer said. “We have a really strong club, and I think it’s going to keep growing.”
As for this weekend, Rejzer and White are ready to prove themselves worthy of another national championship.
“I would say our goal is to win it,” White said. “Top-five would be great, but we’re gunning for the win.”