For the first time, a team from Slippery Rock University will compete in the national championships of competitive college bass fishing.
Benjamin Tawney, a Slippery Rock senior, and Tyler Branca, a junior, placed ninth Sunday at the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Invitational on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The top-10 berth earned them a spot in next spring's FLW College Fishing National Championship.
"To me, it means a lot," said Mr. Tawney, 21, of Stoystown in Somerset County and president of the seven-person fishing club at Slippery Rock. "And to the club, it means a lot, kind of showing everybody that we're good at fishing, and we can compete with everybody."
The Slippery Rock team competed against 44 others in the FLW's Northern Conference. A team from West Virginia University won the tournament and its $4,000 first-place award, catching eight bass weighing a total of 19 pounds and 3 ounces.
Mr. Tawney and Mr. Branca got to ninth place with two fish, weighing a total of 7 pounds and 2 ounces.
Other Pittsburgh-area teams didn't place high enough to move to the championships. Jonathan Coholich and Richard Smith of La Roche College narrowly missed the top 10, boating four fish weighing a total of 5 pounds, 3 ounces. Eric Bykowsky and Michael Terrick of Carnegie Mellon University placed 30th, with one fish weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces.
A date and location for the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship will be announced in the coming weeks. Slippery Rock will be one of 50 teams competing.