PITTSBURGH With the 35th annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic quickly approaching, the Junior Bassmaster World Championship provides an opportunity for young anglers to shine while the pros take a back seat literally.
Earlier today, junior anglers in two age groups were paired with a Classic competitor. They launched from John P. Murtha Park in Kittanning and fished the Allegheny River. And at the end of competition, Scott Gettings, 17, of West Warwick, R.I., and 14-year-old Joey Nania of Liberty Lake, Wash., overcame tough conditions to win the tournament in their respective age group.
Gettings, in the 15 -18 age group, was paired with Arkansas' Jimmy Mize while Nania, in the 11-14 age group, was paired with 2001 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champ Kevin VanDam.
Nania won the tournament with a total weight of 1 pound, 4 ounces, weighing in one fish. On a day when the conditions were extremely tough, Nania said his never-give-up mentality helped him clinch the win.
"I caught that fish in the last five minutes before I had to check in," Nania said. "I was so happy when I caught it that I started screaming and then Kevin joined in screaming. It was amazing."
Nania's fishing partner appeared proud following the competition.
"Joey did a phenomenal job," VanDam said. "He came in with a game plan and he fished extremely efficiently."
Nania's lone fish struck a Strike King purple spinnerbait. Plus, the 1 pound, 4 ounce bass was good enough for Purolator Big Bass honors and an extra $1,000. In the 15 -18 age division, Anthony Stence of Taylorsville, Utah, was the Purolator Big Bass winner with a 1 pound, 9 ounce bass.
Meanwhile, Gettings was the only angler in the field to catch more than one bass. His two bass weighed in at 2 pounds, 13 ounces. He caught both on a black and blue 4-inch Senko.
The two winners each receive a $5,000 scholarship in addition to a Triton boat with a Mercury motor valued at $8,000 and a family trip to Walt Disney World in Central Florida.
"I'm so psyched to win," Gettings said. "The scholarship comes in handy because I will be attending the New England Institute of Technology next year."
Rounding out the top five in the 15-18 age group were Stence; Sterling Pfundheller of Phoenix; Clear Spring, Maryland's Jessey Flowers; and Daniel Suttles of Cambridge City, Ind.
In the 11-14 age group, Scott Maestre of Palm City, Fla., took second place followed by Frederica, Delaware's Jacob Coverdale. Adam Nelson of Stonewood, W. Va. and Dubuque, Iowa's Brandon Brimeyer tied for fourth place. Those anglers also receive scholarship money.
The 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic will receive unprecedented coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 this year. A total of 12 hours of programming will be devoted to Classic tournament coverage from July 29-31.