Fantasia, Pare deliver MHS’ first bass crown

MILFORD – The winning combination for a state title?

Jakob Fantasia handles the analytics. Jamie Pare handles the athletics.

And we’ve got “Bingo!”

Fantasia and Pare, a pair of Milford High seniors, gave the school its first-ever state championship in Bass Fishing – yes, this is a varsity sport and it’s serious stuff – Saturday with a dominating performance at Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham.

Catching the limit of eight fish, the Spartan duo totaled 17.8 pounds of large-mouth bass, knocking off the nearest contender, Keene High, by 5.1 pounds.

Always the diagnostic, Fantasia claimed that science keyed the win.

“Once we got the dates and places for the events, we looked to get some ideas on the biology, the water temperatures and the science of the fish,” said Jakob, who started fishing when he was 2-years-old. “The water was warm, around 60 degrees. We knew the fish would be shallow because of it. We’re talking one-and-a-half to three feet.

We tried some top-water baits and some swimming baits. Jamie hooked our biggest fish of the day right away, and I knew it was going to be a great day.”

Pare said that while fishing isn’t about pure athletics, the rare four-sport varsity letterman (fishing, golf, basketball and baseball) noted the key to victory being this team’s determination and toughness.

“It was a tough day, like 40 degrees out there,” he said. “Other teams may not have felt like us, but Jakob and I were determined to keep our lines in the water the whole day. And that was big. We found out what was working early, and yes, we stuck with it.”

The varsity team is coached by and the entire fishing club program directed by Mr. Richard Parent, a teacher and the architect of the program.

He will be escorting his dynamic rod-and-reel duo to the BASS nationals this summer on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.

It is there where Jakob, who also plays lacrosse for the Spartans, is hoping to gain a little attention from the colleges.

“Nationals is like the chance of a lifetime,” said Jakob, the captain of the team and president of the school’s fishing club. “We’re pretty grateful, just to have that opportunity.”

As for the state title, the two continue to savor the victory, although neither sees a real change in their lives or around school.

“A lot of people might look at it differently, because fishing isn’t truly athletic,” said Jamie. “It takes a different kind of skill. It’s a mental thing. I would call it a sport. And we’re both definitely proud of it.”

BASS FISHING = VARSITY SPORT

Yes, bass fishing became a varsity sport, sanctioned by the NHIAA, within the last five years. Currently, 42 teams now fish at the varsity level.

Each school has one varsity boat with two fishermen and a coach/skipper.

Fishermen are sent out on the water in the tournament and are allowed to catch up to eight fish for weigh-in. The highest poundage caught is the winner.

For you nature lovers? Yes, all the fish are caught and released when possible.

On state title day, the 14 qualifying teams caught and weighed a total of 54 fish, all of which were released back into the wild.

For you foodies? The NHIAA says sorry, catch your own.

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