Since the inception of the Illinois High School Association’s state bass fishing tournament in 2009, Southern Illinois schools have been proving it is the size of the fish, not the size of the school that counts.
Schools in the Deep South have been major players in the state series since Dylan Vaughn, Kaleb Gardner and Lane Murphy of West Frankfort brought home the state championship trophy in 2009. In addition to West Frankfort, Elverado (2016) and Pinckneyville (2018) have won state titles.
At least one Southern Illinois team has finished in the Top 10 every year. On five occasions, three teams south of I-64 have finished in the Top 10. Some of the smallest schools in the region have placed in the Top 10 – Woodlawn, Crab Orchard, Goreville, Christopher and Gallatin County.
The bass have no idea if the angler flipping the jig or throwing the spinnerbait hail from a tiny school in rural Southern Illinois…