Tiny Adrian College fishes against Goliaths

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LAKE HUDSON, MI (13abc Action News) - When you think college sports, you probably think Ohio State football or Wolverine hoops.

An up-and-comer is trying to steal the spotlight and raise a school's brand name.

In its first season of varsity bass fishing Adrian College was ranked number one in the country. They're getting ready for their first national championship in March. All wall fishing against the big schools.

"Boats that say Adrian College and it definitely raises an eyebrow you know. Who's Adrian? Where are these guys from," Head bass fishing coach Seth Borton said.

The Bulldogs are bobbing for bass along a bridge piling in Lake Hudson, kitted out in their custom boats and uniforms. They're ranked ahead of Arkansas and just behind Texas A&M in the national rankings.

"The biggest Division I schools all the way through NCAA Division III," Borton said.

Coach Borton recruits high school champions, many from local schools. Some didn't know Adrian College existed.

"I had never heard of it," Jack Hippe, III, said. "The coach tried to get in touch with me a handful of times. I kind of didn't really believe it"

Bigger schools have club teams but at Adrian, sponsors and the school foot the bills.

"Ohio State, Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio, all have club teams but they don't have the wherewithal," Borton said. "They're doing all this on their own."

Being a varsity sport takes the burden off of families.

"I could do it, but I couldn't for school as well as paying my own way to fish in these tournaments," Hippe, III said.

The team drives ten hours for tournaments and pulls fishing marathons.

"I come off the water a lot more tired and a lot more sore than I ever got playing football and playing basketball," Dalton Breckel said.

Dalton won a junior title in Michigan but not all of his classmates are so sure.

"I think everyone on the team has gotten a little bit of a fair share of razzing," Breckel said.

Some of Adrian College's other niche varsity sports include equestrian, tumbling and acrobatics, and even synchronized skating.