Dalius Richardson and Trevor McKinney, one of the most traveled high school teams in the nation, signed a athletic scholarships with McKendree University.
BENTON, Ill. — The Benton High School duo of Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney will take their fishing talents right down the road to McKendree University after signing scholarships just before Christmas.
One could say that it was an early Christmas present for McKendree University as the school wrangled two seasoned anglers who have done well in the High School ranks. The duo will enroll at McKendree in the fall of 2016 and will be part of the 2016-17 recruiting class for the Bearcat bass fishing team. Richardson and McKinney will join other high school anglers who have signed athletic scholarships this fall, and the anglers are also receiving academic scholarships from McKendree for their work in the classroom.
McKendree seemed to be a perfect fit for the teammates as it keeps them in the state of Illinois, and it allows for them to build a relationship with Jon Rinderer the Bearcats’ Head Coach. “You can’t ask for much more in a coach,” McKinney said. “I consider him more of a friend than a coach.”
McKendree’s co-ed fishing team completed its second full year as a scholarship program in 2015, and their second season proved to be successful as two different teams qualified for the Carhartt College National Championship on Lake DuBay. Both teams cashed in on Lake Barkley as they notched a second and third place finish in the Wild Card event.
Richardson and McKinney are one of the most traveled high school teams in the nation, and since B.A.S.S. started its high school tournament trail in 2014, the pair hasn’t missed an event. The Illinois anglers finished second in the inaugural Bassmaster High School Championship on Kentucky Lake.
Fishing is a support-driven sport and high school competition is even more so because of the needed boat captains. The Richardsons and McKinneys have traveled to every B.A.S.S. High School event, and the hospitality shown by the staff and other families makes it all worthwhile.
“Between the two anglers, the boat captains and the relatives who show their support at tournaments, there are hundreds of people who attend these Bassmaster events,” said Jeremy Richardson, Dailus’ father. “Many of these fishing clubs require anglers to have a good grade point average in school, so you know they are putting in the work away from the events as well.”
“I honestly couldn’t have done this without my parents and Trevor’s parents,” Richardson said. “It costs so much to fish on the road, and being in high school, it would’ve been impossible without them taking us everywhere. I’m very grateful.”
The teammates have accumulated 29 Top 5s and 20 Top 3s to accompany their 11 victories together, including the 2014 Illinois State Championship. While most have occurred in the state of Illinois, the team has gained national publicity through the Bassmaster TV series via the ESPN family of networks.
“I think Dailus and I can go in as freshmen and be just as good as some other teams because we are comfortable together,” McKinney said. “When you fish with someone for so long, you get comfortable and fish better. If I started fishing with a new partner every couple events then it would probably take a year to get in the groove with someone.”
Before they shove off to college and dive into the college fishing circuit, the anglers are scheduled to compete in another 20-plus tournaments during the 2016 calendar year. With more than 20 team tournaments under their belts in 2015, Richardson and McKinney hope to end their high school fishing careers with another trip to the Bassmaster High School Championship.
Richardson and McKinney entered the high school trail as a quiet duo and a team that wasn’t used to the public speaking that occurs when anglers are in the spotlight. B.A.S.S. Nation tournament director Jon Stewart has echoed on multiple occasions the growth of the Benton anglers when it comes to their on-stage speaking and presence. McKinney knows it has helped beyond the tournament scene.
“I don’t really get nervous anymore after being around the cameras early in the High School fishing events,” McKinney said. “Bassmaster has given us an incredible platform to get our name out there and experience those situations.”