Eureka High Fishing Team Eagerly Awaits Nationals After Gear Theft | Local News

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Two of four Eureka High School students preparing to compete in a national fishing tournament thought their seasons had fallen by October.

That’s when seniors Grant Priesmeyer and Brent Ryan had their equipment stolen during a tournament at Table Rock Lake south of Springfield.

However, thanks to a flood of donations, the two will compete alongside senior Jacob Hiebsch and junior Justin Rodenberg in the National High School Fishing Championships, to be held June 22-25 at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala.

“It’s very honorable to realize that within the fishing community there are so many teams and people who would love to be where we are right now,” said Ryan, 18, of Ballwin .

Priesmeyer and Ryan earned berths in the national tournament by winning the Student Angler Federation Missouri championship on April 10 at Table Rock Lake.

Hiebsch, 18, and Rodenberg, 17, both of Eureka, won the April 9 Major League Fishing Missouri High School Open, also held at Table Rock.

Hiebsch said the national championship could have up to 500 two-person teams competing.

“Even though technically we’ll be competing against each other, it’s like we’re working as a team because we can help each other out,” he said.

Priesmeyer returns to the national tournament after qualifying for the event as a junior, when he and former partner Steven Lafata finished 259th out of 310 teams at Tennessee.

“I’m happy to end my senior year this way,” Priesmeyer said.

Ryan said no one on the team had fished in Alabama before, but he and his teammates did a lot of internet research on fishing in the area.

“Because of the time of year, the weather, there are so many things that affect how the fish will bite,” he said.

Stolen material

Priesmeyer and Ryan, along with freshmen Roman Literski and Brayden Brown, were devastated Oct. 24 when they discovered their fishing gear had been taken in the early hours of the morning.

Patrick Priesmeyer, the team’s coach and Grant’s father, said the equipment was stolen between midnight and 5 a.m. and was worth around $17,000.

Patrick Priesmeyer said that in addition to the teenagers’ gear, which included 23 rods and reels, 10 of his rods and gear he had collected over 40 years of fishing had been stolen.

The trainer said most rods and reels were stored in locked rod lockers and other gear was in storage lockers. He said a rod or two may have been forgotten on one of the boat’s decks.

Patrick Priesmeyer said most of the stolen gear is no longer being made, including a wiggle wart, which is a type of bait and can cost up to $80 due to high demand.

“Just the sheer devastation I witnessed on their faces this Sunday morning at Table Rock is a place I don’t want to have to go back to,” said Patrick Priesmeyer. “In their eyes, everything they had worked for disappeared in the blink of an eye.”

However, the student seasons were not lost for long.

Ryan said more than $8,000 in cash and more than $3,000 in equipment was donated to the four students by residents of Eureka and the surrounding area. A GoFundMe account was set up for each team, with Ryan and Grant Priesmeyer receiving $5,000 and Brown and Literski raising $3,771 in donations.

“It was very motivating and kind of like an incentive to want to do our best,” Ryan said.

Grant Priesmeyer said the flood of donations had restored his faith in people.

“There are still good people in the world,” he said.

Fund raising

The teams will hold a trivia night at 7 p.m. on June 11 at the Wm. F. Bud Weber Community Center, 333 Bald Hill Road, Eureka. Hiebsch said it would cost $160 for a table of eight contestants and the evening would feature a silent auction.

Admission is $160 for an eight-player table.

Rodenberg said teams are working to raise money to pay for accommodation, gas for the trip, boats and food.

They aim to raise $8,000, which would cover the cost of everything.

“Even if we can’t achieve (the goal), all the money for that (goal) doesn’t have to come out of our own pockets,” Hiebsch said.

Those interested in participating in the trivia contest can email [email protected]

Patrick Priesmeyer said people could donate money for the trip to the Venmo account, @eurekawildcast-fishing.

A GoFundMe account has also been created for donations called “Eureka Wildcat Fishing Advance to Championships”.

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