Casting UM into spotlight

Overnight success has been a trend in University of Montevallo athletics this decade, but no one expected the instant success of the Falcons’ newest sports team.

The UM bass fishing team is tearing through the waters as its first full season reaches the mid-way point. The club sport began last fall with an appearance in only one tournament – the National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship in Texas.

Clent Davis and Casey Crumpton posted the largest first-day catch to lead the nation in their first UM event.

“No one knew who we were,” Davis said. “They were calling us the University of Montevagio. They didn’t even know how to say the name of the university correctly.”

After the pair fizzled out of the Top 10 later in the tournament, David thinks people thought Montevallo’s first-day lead was merely a fluke.

However, he says this year’s success is proving just the opposite.

Davis and boat partner Chuck Holderfield captured their second first place finish in a tournament this year on June 17 when Montevallo won the Southern Collegiate Bass Fishing Series championship on Lake Guntersville.

Below them were teams with anywhere from 30-40 anglers in a club. Montevallo just recently added its sixth and seventh members.

Davis and Holderfield combined with Casey Crumpton and Justin Harden for a two-day catch of 78.05 pounds to win the tournament. The catch beat the University of Alabama at Birmingham by more than six pounds and topped third-place Auburn University by nearly 10 pounds.

“I think with the guys they’ve got in there right now they can easily go and beat anybody in the country,” said Crumpton, who graduated in May and said Guntersville will be his last tournament to fish for UM. “Clent is one of the best fisherman I’ve ever fished with of any age. He’s one of the best around here. It’s going to be hard to beat him as hot as he’s been here lately.”

Crumpton said he and David received a good bit of media attention in September and remembers being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal for their big catch, but this year’s attention is already 10-fold.

“For us to go in there and beat them, I think they know we’re for real,” Crumpton said of the larger schools.

Montevallo became the focus of the Fox College Sports Network camera crews last Tuesday for the college bass show that will air late this fall. The anglers’ names and photos have circulated on Web sites and fishing news sources across the nation in just a matter of days, even popping up on a New Zealand-based site Friday.

Harden said the win has not only sparked interest by other teams wanting to know who this fish from a small pond of 3,000 students is but also from potential future UM anglers.

“It probably hasn’t hit yet, but in the next two years, there will be people going to Montevallo just to be on the fishing team,” Harden said.

He said the Student Life office at UM has received dozens of calls of interested students or perspective students since the information of the team’s win went on the school Web site last Wednesday. Now the university is working to give its bass team a home on the Web and also help get funding as a club from the student government association.

“I really think that the most important thing is that (this win) helps get our name out there for the future and to help recruit some new guys and get some younger guys,” Crumpton said.

Davis and Harden will put up a booth at pre-registration in July to try to attract new team members and continues to look for sponsors to help balance the cost of competition.

Harden stressed the main focus of the club is to preserve the university lake. The club hopes to get regulations for a catch-and-release policy put in place and also clean out unnecessary vegetation.

Prospective or current Montevallo students seeking more information about fishing for UM can call the Student Life office at 665-6565.