ANGLING TO THE TOP
Owatonna’s Brady Matz, left, and Walker Krampitz, right, smile as they show off some of their catch at the U.S. High School National Championship (USHSNC). Matz and Krampitz finished in third place at the USHSNC, and later finished second at World’s competition. Submitted photo
Owatonna High School’s fishing team duo of Walker Krampitz and Brady Matz battled through adversity on the water at Pickwick Lake in Alabama earlier in the month, securing third place at the U.S. High School National Championship (USHSNC) and second place at the High School Fishing World Finals competition.
The duo finished the three-day competition at the USHSNC with a total of 32 pounds and five ounces before scoring a final weight of 11.6 pounds on the fourth day at worlds competition.
“It was kind of a feeling of relief. We worked hard all year just to qualify, but to go down there and find the fish we were looking for… it was pretty surreal,” said Krampitz.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Owatonna’s anglers over the course of the week.
Krampitz and Matz had to temporarily retire their boat after the third day of competition and search for a new one for the fourth and final day.
“Earlier in the week on the last day of practice, we were running about 30 miles out and heard a noise coming out of the engine. As time passed it continued to get louder until we lost the lower unit on the third day and were forced to find a new boat.”
According to Krampitz, it was the famed Southern hospitality that saved the day, as the team received a boat from a local angler to use on the fourth day of competition.
Yet, even with a new boat, the adversity was not quite finished.
The new boat brought with it new challenges, particularly being that the team had to adapt to use new technology.
With no spot-lock technology on the boat’s trolling engine, the team had to use a traditional anchor to stay on location while also learning how to navigate a new fish-finding device.
However, Owatonna’s anglers were not phased and had a pretty solid feeling that they knew where the fish were.
“We had pre-fished a shoreline about an hour out from the docks and knew that the right fish we needed were out there. Going about 25-30 miles out can be tough on the equipment – as we found out – but with 416 boats out on the lake, we figured this spot gave us a chance to make a run. I’d say it paid off.”
After taking second and third place, the squad was presented with a multitude of choices for scholarship money, ranging up to $120,000.
The duo, Krampitz said, is still making up their minds on what option they will take regarding the money.
In the meantime, Krampitz and Matz plan on continuing their shared passion for the sport by fishing local lakes over the summer aboard a familiar friend: Their newly fixed boat.