Harley Valerius and Blake Jeffrey

McCracken County’s Harley Valerius and Blake Jeffrey celebrate winning the 2022 Bass Fishing Region Championship.

The Bass Fishing Team continues to shine for McCracken County High School. This season, the team went on a run for the state title with Blake Jeffrey and Harley Valerius at the helm.

The duo placed first during the regional tournament, bringing home the title after catching five, which were all alive. Teammates Hayley Troutman, Samuel Harris, Nolan Birdsong, and Spencer Cates also qualified for the state tournament to represent the Mustang name.

“At the beginning, we didn’t know that we had a winning shot. But, we knew we were qualified to fish at state,” Valerius said. “Seeing that we were in first, it got more exciting and nerve-wracking. But, it was good to take home the trophy because our school has never won it before and we felt blessed to be the first team ever to do it.”

The duo’s catch came in at 15 pounds with a 3-pound, 7-ounce big bass to clinch the regional title against teams such as Marshall County, Trinity (Whitesville), Grayson County, and Muhlenberg County.

“It was nerve-wracking because we knew we would qualify for the state tournament,” Jeffrey said. “We knew we had a good bag, but we didn’t think it would be the winning bag.”

The two credited their siblings and families as inspiration while competing at regionals and going to the state tournament. Valerius joked that he and his brother have a rivalry going when it comes to fishing.

“It meant a lot (winning) because there’s always been a big rivalry with brother and me,” Valerius said. “He made it to state and always rubbed it in my face.”

For Valerius, fishing has always been a staple in his life. From childhood to his now teenage years, fishing led him to this point with patience and determination on the boat.

“I’ve been fishing for close to 14 years now,” Valerius said. “I’ve always grown up around fishing, and it’s something my family showed me at a young age. I fell in love with it and kept going.”

Jeffrey felt the same sentiment when it came to a sibling bond that fueled his love for fishing. A fateful day with his sister allowed him to fall in love with fishing, and from there, his talent flourished.

“I have been fishing for about two and a half years now,” Jeffrey said. “What got me into it was Madison, my sister. She was really big on it, and I’d always go with her. One day, I asked her to teach me how to do it.”

Although the Mustang duo finished in 13th place during the KHSAA Bass Fishing State Championship, the McCracken County Bass Fishing team has a bright future and made history for the school’s program this season.

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