BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Nick Neidige of Indiana entered his first Bassmaster CastingKids competition about a year ago on a whim.
"We were going to Bass Pro Shops and they had one there, so I entered it and won it," he said.
No problem, eh?
The answer was apparently not. Over the course of the following year Neidige entered and won a couple of other CastingKids contests, including the Indiana state championship. That helped him earn a berth in the national finals, held Saturday afternoon at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex prior to the Bassmaster Classic weigh-in.
Neidige, 13, squared off against Hunter King of Nebraska in the 11-14 age division in the final shootout after the two bested the four other qualifiers in the division. When it was over Neidige totaled 140 points to King's 120 for the division title.
CastingKids competitors flip, pitch and cast a hookless lure to a target from different distances. Points are accumulated from the bull's-eye target, with winners and runners-up earning cash for college scholarships.
Neidige won $5,000 and King took home $2,000.
In the 7-10 age division, Sierra Voisin of Ontario, Canada, won the title with 130 points over April Floyd of Okeechobee, Fla., who qualified through the Southern Division. Voisin was representing the Eastern Division.
King has competed in the CastingKids events for four years and reached his second national championship this season. He finished fifth in Pittsburg two years ago.
Before the finals, King and Neidige were relaxed and ready to go.
"I guess since I've done it before I'm not nervous or anything," he said. "I know what we're doing and where to go, so I can be calmer and just cast."
Neidige doesn't have any plans for college yet, but King already is thinking about his future.
"I finished third in the Bassmaster Junior World Championship and really enjoy fishing competitively," he said. "I'm thinking about taking business or marketing courses to help later on."