COTTAGE GROVE &
Chris Parks of Eugene cocks his right arm and releases his rod like a quarterback snapping a side-armed pitch on the option.
Muscles ripple beneath his emerald tunic with the brilliant yellow "O" and familiar Nike Swoosh as he launches his second precision shot in as many minutes, twisting the wrist with a slight underhand flourish.
The left hand takes over, stripping line and feeding the missile to the target like a wire-guided torpedo until he feels it hit a stump, then slowly lifts it off.
A strike. Muscles reverse and the thin graphite lance arcs like a pole vaulter's pole.
Touchdown. Home run. Goooaalll!
Parks lifts the four-pound largemouth bass carefully from the water, dislodges the hook and deposits his shimmering green and golden prize into the livewell.
It's mechanical: He looks at the hook as he closes the lid on the livewell for bait, checks for nicks in the line as he turns and is already casting as he rises to his full height and returns the ball of his sandal to the electric motor's pedal control.
Behind him, Gregor Crowl of Selma continues to cast just as methodically &
reeling while Parks casts, casting while Parks reels.
They're a team. Literally.
On Sept. 27-29, the pair will lead the Ducks' bass fishing teams, two of 86 teams from 48 colleges and universities across the nation in the 2007 Boat U.S. National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship on Lake Lewisville, Texas, near Dallas.
Most teams are from schools in the Midwest and deep South. All sizes of schools, public and private, participate. Only Oregon and Arizona State are fielding teams from west of the Rocky Mountains.
"I'm kind of surprised, actually, that there aren't more," says Crowl, 22, a senior in business and president of the University of Oregon Bass Club. "You'd think the Beavers would have one, not the Ducks. We'd sure like to see them get one going."
Parks, 23, is a senior in economics and acts as vice president and the club's tournament director.
Intercollegiate bass fishing is a club sport at Oregon rather than a certified team sport under the athletic department.
Like many professional bass angling groups, the two-year-old club (in its third season) scrambles for most of its money. The club falls under the oversight of a university club sports office, which doles out some jackets and a few hundred dollars a year in seed money.
Crowl has experimented with designs for a school letter in bass fishing &
a bass leaping from the middle of the 'O,' for example &
but isn't sure he can talk anyone into funding it.
"I walk into the office and get grief every time I present them with a receipt for $6 worth of worms," Crowl says. "Worms. Are you kidding me?"
Crowl fished for Oregon in June at a New York tournament sponsored by The Outdoor Channel (it will be shown on television sometime this winter, he says) and finished third of 12 schools. He won $5,000 for the club's travel fund.
The club's 20 members partner with the Emerald Bass Club in Eugene to travel around the state and participate in tournaments.
Besides Crowl and Parks, the other team members this year will be Carter Troughton, 19, a business major from Discovery Bay, Calif., and Tanner Messner, 23, a business major from Newport.
"We want to show them what Oregon is all about this year," Crowl says, drawing a fist-pump and a "Yeah" from Parks.
Collegiate bass fishing is so big-time in the East that some schools subsidize their teams with boats and travel, but Parks says his dad's boat ("He does all the repairs," Parks says) is the only one the club has access to without help from the Emerald Bass Club members.
Wait a minute, he's asked, isn't Phil Knight an avid angler? Maybe Nike could build a lake training facility.
"We don't even need that much," Parks says. "He's got $100 million; all I need is $80,000 for a couple of boats wrapped with a lot of Oregon stuff."
On the Net: Information about Oregon's team is on a Web site: /gcrowl; blog: http:blog.oregonlive.com/billmonroe; Collegiate Bass Anglers Association: http:www.collegiatebass.org
UO fishing team to compete in nationals
COTTAGE GROVE &