The Huntley bass fishing program has been around for only four years and is already showing signs it could be one of the better programs in the area for years to come.
The Red Raiders won the Chain O’ Lakes South Sectional for the second consecutive year Friday and will send two teams to Carlyle Lake for the two-day state finals May 9 and 10 after also taking second.
“It’s awesome, and it says a lot about the kids and how committed they are,” Huntley coach Erik Lachel said. “This year our goal was to get both teams to state, and we did. Now our next goal is to do better than last year.”
The top three teams from each sectional advance to the state final. The team of Cole Paarfusser, Michael Lowry and Garrett Koeppler took first place with a final weight of 9.24 pounds. Lowry won the Big Bass award, for largest fish of the day, which weighed 2.67 pounds.
All three seniors, along with junior Ricky Raclawski, who fished on the second team, were a part of the team that went to state last year. That team finished 16th after the second day of the tournament was canceled because of tornadoes in the area.
“Last year when we won the sectional on a tiny boat, people said, ‘That’s a nice story, but they will probably only be around one year,’" Koeppler said. “Then we come out here and win again, which is just huge for the program moving forward.”
Huntley's second team, consisting of Raclawski, Tyler Husch and two freshman cousins, Zach and Tyler Colton, finished second with a total weight of 7.64 pounds. Raclawski caught the big bass for that boat, with a 2.38-pound fish.
Success was not easy for the second boat. They needed to catch three fish in the final hour in order to meet the maximum of five fish per boat. The two freshmen played a big part in the late comeback, showing the strength of the program for future years.
“That was really impressive catching that many fish late in the day,” Lowry said. “They came through; this all just feels pretty cool right now.”
Lowry plans on fishing in college, as well. He will be a part of the Murray State fishing program that at ranked in the top five in the nation at one time last year. Koeppler will attend McHenry County College in the fall and be an assistant coach for the Huntley fishing team.
“I’m not surprised by our success because I knew we were good fishermen,” Koeppler said. “It took a little time to get the pieces together, but look at how far we’ve come.”
Jacobs and Marengo each had two teams, but neither managed to catch five fish. Jacobs was fifth with 1.64 pounds, and Marengo was seventh with 0.81. Marian Central and Johnsburg (Chain O’ Lakes North Sectional) failed to catch any fish.