Last month, Jimmy Morrow of Arlington Heights and his Northwestern University teammate, Matthew Kestufskie, found themselves the subjects of an in-depth profile in CollegeFishing.com.
Their claim to fame? They won $50,000 last fall for their collegiate bass fishing team -- including a new boat and cash -- as regional qualifiers to the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championships.
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Now, as one of 25 teams from across the country to advance, they are preparing for the national championships next month in Columbia, S.C. They plan to visit Lake Murray over their spring break later this month to get a feel for the conditions.
At stake is a cool $100,000 prize for their college program, as well as a berth in the Forest Wood Cup, essentially the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing, where they will compete against the best professional anglers in the world.
For Morrow, it has been a long road since starting the bass fishing club at Hersey High School.
"I have always had a love of fishing, but when the IHSA came out with a bass fishing circuit I knew I had to compete," he says.
Morrow worked with his golf coach, Dan Caporusso, to form the team. Now in its fourth year of competition, Caporusso continues to coach the group with Dave Papez, still in search of an elusive berth to the state tournament.
"At our first sectional (2009), Jimmy out-fished everyone," Caporusso says. "He caught the biggest bass, the most fish and he had the most weight for five fish allowed."
Alas, the engine on his fishing boat broke down, and Morrow failed to make it back to shore in time for the weigh-in. Consequently, the penalty points took him out of contention to advance to state.
He was devastated, but Morrow didn't stop tournament fishing. He and Kestufskie lived across the hall from each other during his freshman year at Northwestern and they quickly discovered their mutual love of bass fishing.
Together, they started Northwestern's fishing club and they have competed ever since.
Before each tournament they get a topographic map to study the lake's underwater features and mark potential locations where fish might be, depending on seasonal patterns.
"I truly believe that a winning formula for a tournament directly correlates with the amount of off-water prep you do beforehand," Morrow said in an online interview.
Last weekend, he and Kestufskie, of downstate Georgetown, headed to southern Missouri to compete in a qualifying event at Table Rock Lake, honing their skills even more as they look ahead to the national championships.
However, Hersey's bass fishing team is never far from Morrow's mind. One week after he competes at nationals, he expects to help the Huskies at their sectional assignment, at the Chain O' Lakes in Spring Grove.
And while the Huskies have yet to advance to the state finals, this year Morrow can at least correct the problem that plagued him three years ago: He can lend the team a new boat.