BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Natchitoches high school senior Wes Rollo is one of just 12 standout high school anglers selected as members of the exclusive Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
More than 400 applications nominating students in grades 10-12 were submitted from 35 states across the nation. Of these, 62 were chosen as Bassmaster All-State anglers.
“We are proud to welcome an exceptional group of anglers to our 2019 class of High School All-Americans,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “Each year we see competitive applications from across the country, and every one is so impressive. This class is made up of exceptional young fishermen who also excel in academics, conservation initiatives and community service.”
After reviewing tournament resumes, community service activities and recommendations from coaches and school officials, a panel of judges representing the sportfishing industry, media and conservation groups further narrowed the field to the Top 12 high school anglers in the country.
Rollo is a senior on the Natchitoches Central High bass fishing team and has overcome great obstacles to earn his tournament success on the water.
At the age of 12, Rollo was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. At the time, he was an up and coming pitcher with his baseball team and a cornerback on his middle school football team.
"Within 6 weeks," said his father, Jeff Rollo, "Wes was a skeletal 70 pounds and had little muscle mass. Chemotherapy treatments and other medications he had to take caused avascular necrosis (AVN), which can lead to bone death."
Wes, who had been fishing since age 2 and who practiced casting into a bucket at 4 years old, wouldn’t give up on fishing.
“Sometimes I had to carry him, sometimes he would sit in a chair,” said his father. “Every chance we got, I took him in the boat. When he was not physically able to get out of bed, he watched hours upon hours of (fishing) videos. It was what got him through those nearly 3 years of treatment.”
Wes learned in 2015 that the AVN condition had improved, instead of getting worse as expected. His doctor credited the turnaround to his activity fishing and balancing as he stood in a boat, Jeff Rollo said.
Off the water, the young angler has raised money and collected donations to cook dinner and provide Christmas gifts for St. Jude’s kids and their families at the Ronald McDonald House in Memphis. It was there that he chose two children to host for a fishing weekend in Louisiana, where he will take each child and his family fishing for a weekend.
The All-American team has been invited to participate in a special Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament being held in conjunction with the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department event, a fan-favorite festival that will be held May 2-6 on Lake Fork, Texas. Each All-American angler will be paired with an Elite Series pro for the one-day derby to be held on a nearby fishery.
The rest of the team includes:
Tyler Cory, Amherst, Wis.
Cory, a junior at Amherst High School, has earned three wins in high school tournaments across the state of Wisconsin over the past 12 months, including an FLW High School Open on the Mississippi River. He also has an impressive five Top 5 finishes to add to his extensive list of tournament success.
Cory is also the founder and current president of his high school bass fishing team. In 2018, he was selected as a member of the Bassmaster High School All-State Team, and when asked what his fishing goals for the future were, his response was “to be named a Bassmaster High School All-American.”
“Perhaps most notable about Tyler Cory is his passion for fishing,” wrote Hannah Lynch, a physical education teacher at Amherst High School. “There are few people in this world with a solid passion and drive like Tyler has for fishing. He could not be a more deserving candidate and he will work extremely hard.”
Dylan Fogarty, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Fogarty, a junior at Cumberland Valley High School, has tallied an impressive four wins this tournament season, as well as six Top 5 finishes and three Top 20s in high school events. He has also been the angler of the year two years running for the Capital City Junior Bassmasters. Fogarty currently is serving as tournament director for his high school club and single handedly raised over $1,800 for the club to use for equipment, jerseys and tournament expenses.
Fogarty also participates in various conservation and community service efforts, including helping Conodoquinet Creek Association apply for the 2019 Pennsylvania Creek of the Year grant. He helped organize a “Hooked on Scouting” fishing event meant to help recruit new cub scouts and their families. At this event, he instructed young children in conservation practices and fishing techniques. For the past several years, he has also been a volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Kids Fishing Derby which gives a day of fishing to children who are affected by these illnesses.
“I’ve never met a person, young or old, with the passion for fishing that Dylan has,” wrote Robert Shaw, bass fishing club advisor at Cumberland Valley High School. “He was excited and prepared to start a bass fishing club at our high school. Dylan took the initiative, and on his own, created the club we have today. The club is now home to students who fish in tournaments, some who just fish for fun, and others who don’t fish much but want a safe and welcoming place to hang out with friends.”
Parker Guy, Ocilla, Ga.
A junior and member of the Irwin Bass Anglers, Guy has earned two wins over the past 12 months, including the Georgia B.A.S.S. Nation High School tournament on Lake Eufaula. Currently, Guy is ranked fifth in the angler of the year points standings for the Georgia B.A.S.S. Nation.
“As a coach, seeing Parker make the decision to focus all of his attention on fishing was a blow to our other athletic programs,” wrote Buddy Nobles, athletic director for Irwin County High School. “It is not every day you find a 6-foot, 8-inch athlete with impeccable character, God-given athletic ability and academic greatness. I sure would love to have him on the baseball mound or football field, but there is no doubt Parker’s destiny has always been on the water.”
Guy assisted the caretaker of a neighborhood lake, learning how to properly clean and care for the areas surrounding the lake, deal with beaver dam-building, creating fish habitat and maintaining the dam and other facilities. He has now taken over responsibility for monitoring and caring for the lake.
Luke Haymaker, Canal Fulton, Ohio
Haymaker has been a member of the PrimeTime Junior Bass Anglers club for the past five years, including three years in which he served as president. In the past 12 months, he claimed victory in two tournaments and finished in the Top 5 in three additional tournaments.
He was named the PrimeTime Junior Bass Angler of the Year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Haymaker will be attending Kent State University in the fall, and he plans on joining the Kent State bass fishing team. He intends to study marketing in hopes of attaining a sales job in the bass fishing industry — if his original plan of becoming a Bassmaster Elite Series angler does not work out.
“With the love of the outdoors, Luke possesses a keen awareness of our need as sporting enthusiast to be conservation minded, and to protect God’s fragile ecosystem,” said Robert L. Davis, president of the North Coast Bass Anglers Association.
Brody Jacks, Benton, Ark.
A junior at Bauxite High School and president of his high school fishing team, Jacks has seen extensive tournament success over the past year. He has earned three wins, including an Arkansas High School Bassers Classic Championship, as well as four Top 5s and seven Top 20 finishes.
Jacks helped write a grant application to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. As a result, the club was awarded $1,000 from Gov. Asa Hutchinson to help purchase fishing supplies for students who would like to become part of the fishing club, but do not have the means to purchase gear.
“Besides helping to start the Bauxite High School fishing team, Brody serves in many other leadership positions,” wrote Jonathan Knight, the school’s assistant principal. “Somehow he still manages time to grow his small business, Osprey Fishing Tackle. And, in the past few months, he has been invited and accepted invitations to speak about high school fishing on the highest-rated morning show in Arkansas — KABX 103.7.”
Seth Moser, Maryville, Tenn.
A senior at Sequoyah High School, Moser has earned four wins, including a Southeast Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation high school event on Lake Chickamauga. He also has one Top 5 finish and six Top 20 finishes to his credit.
“Academically, (Moser) is in the top 1% of the senior class and has maintained that ranking all four years,” wrote Debi Tipton, principal at Sequoyah High School. “Not only does Seth get great grades, he also participates in many extracurricular activities. He personally raised over $16,000 over the course of four years for the Sequoyah High School Bass Team as well as completed 82 hours of community service.”
Moser also excels in leadership and scholastic achievements. He has been the recipient of multiple math and scholar awards; has been invited to the National Youth Leadership Conference for Medicine and Science; has served as the FCA president, senior class treasurer and high school bass team president. His goal is to lead his future college, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, to a national bass fishing championship title.
Wyatt Pazdro, Minooka, Ill.
Pazdro, a junior at Minooka Community High School, has an impressive four tournament wins over the past 12 months, as well as four Top 5 finishes. One of his wins was in the IHSA State Championship, where he was competing for the second time.
In addition to his tournament success, Pazdro has as extensive list of conservation projects and community service to his name. He has planted fish habitat in local ponds, helped clean the shores of the Des Plains River and participated in a DNR program to help Aux Sable Creek Farms, just to name a few.
“I have always known Wyatt to be a very dedicated fisherman,” said Kevin Gummerson, a social studies teacher at Minooka Community High School. “It was evident to me that fishing has been a big part of Wyatt’s life and has motivated him to do better in the classroom.”
Dalton Smith, Brandon, Miss.
Smith, a junior at Northwest Rankin High School, has earned five wins in high school tournaments, seven Top 5 finishes and 5 Top 20 finishes in the 2018-2019 tournament season. He is also a four-time TBF youth state champion and a TBF youth Central Division champion.
Smith has an extensive lineup of conservation projects as well as community service activities. He organized two fundraisers for the Wounded Warriors Project, worked to educate future anglers about giant salvinia on Ross Barnett Reservoir and takes peers and younger children in the community out to help them learn about fishing as a relaxing and rewarding way to spend time.
“Whenever opportunity lends itself, Dalton gives speeches, writes papers and creates art to bring awareness and help develop an interest in fishing among his peers,” wrote Mary Jane Cox, art department chairman at Northwest Rankin High School. “This is the second year Northwest Rankin High School has had a fishing team, and Dalton has been very active in recruiting students to be a part of this growing group.”
Tucker Smith, Shoal Creek, Ala.
A junior at Briarwood Christian School, Smith has two first-place finishes on his resume, including a win against a 200-boat field at the Bassmaster High School National Championship held on Kentucky Lake out of Paris, Tenn. Smith and his fishing partner, Grayson Morris, are also a part of the high school television show on Jimmy Houston Legends (JHL.TV) called Winning Edges — a show produced by high school students to present “hands on” educational and inspirational video content.
“When Tucker was in junior high school, he suffered a traumatic ‘tib fib’ leg fracture at
football practice,” wrote Jay Mathews, director of athletics and the bass fishing coach at Briarwood Christian School. “He was in a wheelchair for quite some time. Tucker decided to take this setback as a comeback and even fished from his wheelchair! He never complained throughout his recovery.”
Off the water, Smith has worked for King's Home Kampfire for the King event and has been a big part of managing a private lake in Louisville, Ala., for a number of years. This year, they will be adding fish habitat in addition to the baitfish stocked in 2018.
Jackson Swisher, Lake City, Fla.
Swisher, a junior at Columbia High School, has excelled both on and off the water in his high school career. In the past 12 months alone, Swisher has earned three first-place finishes, seven Top 5 finishes and six Top 20 finishes. He’s currently in first place for the Florida B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Series points standings.
When he’s not fishing competitively, Swisher volunteers at fundraising tournaments on the Suwannee River, including the Breast Cancer Awareness Association tournament and the Puzzle Pieces of North Florida Autism tournament. He also teaches pitching, casting and knot-tying skills to first-time anglers at the National Wild Turkey Federation Take A Kid Fishing Day.
“My three daughters (age 6, 7 and 9) expressed to me they wanted to learn about fishing,” wrote Thomas Hosford, principal at Columbia High School. “I spoke to Jackson … and he immediately asked when he could take them fishing. Over the next week, Jackson spent a couple of afternoons fishing with them at a nearby pond. I was amazed at his patience with them. You could see his passion for showing others, especially children, how to fish.
“When I think of an All-American, I think of someone who not only excels in his or her sport, but also in all walks of life. Jackson is the epitome of an All-American.”
James Willoughby, Gulfport, Miss.
With an outstanding five tournament wins over the past 12 months, Willoughby has demonstrated the fishing ability needed to qualify as a Bassmaster High School All-American. In addition to those five wins, he has also logged seven Top 5 finishes and 8 Top 20 finishes.
Willoughby organized the first fishing team at his high school and has been actively involved ever since. He is also very dedicated to his schoolwork and has not missed a day of school in the past four years. He has volunteered with special needs children, giving them the chance to be on the water and catch fish.
“James is an example of a good citizen who is committed to his role as a student, teammate and community member,” said Caitlin Holley, an english teacher at West Harrison High School. “He humbly demonstrates leadership skills daily, and his classmates are encouraged by his positive attitude and behavior.”
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