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It’s been quite a year for Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney of Benton.

Within a few short months they won the Costa Bassmaster High School Classic, the prep equivalent of the Bassmaster Classic; they were named Bassmaster All-Americans; they accepted scholarships to McKendree University; and they won the Costa Bassmaster High School Midwestern Open.

And, this weekend Richardson and McKinney will fish the Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament at Oklahoma’s Lake Texoma. Each will be paired with an Elite Series professional for the one-day event.

The recent graduates of Benton High School have been fishing together since the sixth grade. They have won their share of trophies over the years, but none more prestigious than the Costa Bassmater High School Classic. That tournament was held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake in March.

“Winning the Bassmaster Classic, a lot of people know our names,” McKinney said. “Everywhere we go people recognize our names. All these Bassmaster events give us a great opportunity to succeed. Hopefully, it gives us the opportunity to fish professionally some day.”

“That’s the biggest stage we’ve ever been on,” Richardson said. “There were about 20,000 people in the audience when we weighed in.”

They won the event by an impressive seven pounds.

And, they are hoping that success if the forerunner of things to come.

“I’m going to McKendree University,” Richardson said. “As of right now my major is like a sales and marketing position. I’m going to try to go pro; or try to get on as a national sales rep for one of the big fishing companies.”

McKinney is more focused on staying in the boat.

“That’s definitely something that I want to do,” he said. “I want it.”

And, fishing the Bassmaster prep circuit gives them a taste of professional fishing.

“Bassmaster makes us feel like we’re actually fishing professional tournaments,” McKinney said. “Obviously, it’s not the same as fishing an Elite Series tournament. These kids are the future professional fishermen, so we are essentially fishing against the best of the best at our age.”

Being named Bassmaster All-Americans was icing on the cake. Although the two normally fish as a team, the All-American honor was an individual award. There were only 12 individuals named All-American.

“Last year we had applied for it,” Richardson said. “Neither one of us got it. A couple months before we got named All-American we got named all-state. Once we were named all-state we thought we had a chance, but we weren’t sure.”

The long-time fishing partners were thrilled for each other.

“Last year we didn’t get the award and it was pretty disappointing,” McKinney said. “We really expected to get it last year. That was always a worry of mine (only one being named All-American). I think we both deserved it. It really made me happy we both got the award.”

Although the honors have been pouring in, they both have a lot on their plates before school begins.

They qualified as a team for the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship on Kentucky Lake Aug. 4-6.

At this point in their careers, both prefer fishing as a team.

“I met my partner in sixth or seventh grade,” Richardson said. “We’ve got to the point where we just about know each other’s next move. We can go out to the boat and just about know what the other has tied on for the day.”

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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