Local angler begins national championship run

ROGERS, Ark. – Beginning at 7 a.m. today, Parkersburg South graduate and Fairmont State University student Ryan Radcliff along with partner Wil Dieffenbauch will begin their quest to capture the FLW College Fishing National Championship.

The two-man team will join two dozen other schools in battling out for the $30,000 top prize, which includes a Ranger Z117 with a 90-horsepower engine as well as an entry into the Forrest Wood Cup this summer.

Radcliff and his partner qualified for the national three-day tournament this past September when they won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference championship on Philpott Lake in Martinsville, Va.

The field of 25 collegiate teams will leave from Prairie Creek Park each morning and fish on Beaver Lake until the 4 p.m. weigh-ins. All of the two-man angler teams will fish with hopes of filling their daily limit of five bass. Only the top five teams after Friday and Saturday will advance to Sunday’s final round.

“Wil came down about two weeks and practiced. He’s already scoped it all out,” Radcliff said via phone late Wednesday night.

None of the college team members were allowed to fish the lake two weeks prior to the national finals. However, the teams were allowed to go out on Thursday to get a feel for the lake and its conditions.

“We’ve got a pretty good gameplan,” said Radcliff, who took advantage of being allowed to fish from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday. “They had a pro tournament here last weekend and the big-time pros were down here.

“We saw what they were doing and it’s kind of close to what Wil was going to do. We’ve got some good spots scoped out. We might have to make some little changes. Hopefully, we will be all right.”

Radcliff, who will graduate in May, said he plans on swimming and fishing for FSU next year since he will be going after a master’s degree in criminal justice and has one year of eligibility remaining.