Adrian Avena is a top-flight tennis player at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, but recently he's been making more of a name for himself with a rod than a racket.

The 20-year-old junior from Vineland, N.J., a business administration major, pulled off a wire-to-wire victory at last week's Champlain Northern EverStart. He carried a lead of just a pound into the final day, but caught his second 20-pound sack of the event and prevailed by more than 3 1/2.

He battled extremely rough water to make the grueling 70-mile round trip from the launch in Plattsburgh to the Ticonderoga area at the south end of the lake each day. It paid off in a $29,153 payday.



Here's how he did it.

Practice

Avena, who's home is about an 8-hour drive from Plattsburgh, usually spends 3 weeks a year at Champlain – 2 for tournaments and another around Memorial Day for vacation. He put in 5 days of practice for the EverStart, but only 2 of them at Ticonderoga.

He spent a couple of days near Plattsburgh, exploring the Inland Sea and some of the backwaters. He found the place at Ticonderoga that he'd exploit throughout the tournament 2 days prior to day 1 and caught a near-8-pounder on a swimbait that day.

It was basically a deepwater ditch that served as the first dropoff for fish headed back to the main lake from two large spawning coves. It featured scattered rock and wood along with an abundance of grass, and he discovered that the outside edges of the vegetation were loaded with quality fish.

"I went back to Plattsburgh on Wednesday to try to find something decent that was closer to the ramp," he said. "I couldn't do it."

Competition

> Day 1: 5, 21-03
> Day 2: 5, 16-10
> Day 3: 5, 20-03
> Total = 15, 58-00

About 20 out of the 114 tournament boats headed south for Ticonderoga when the field launched on day 1. Avena had drawn boat No. 111 and figured there was no way he'd be first to fish his best stuff, but every other angler who'd gone that direction peeled off before he reached it.

He started off each morning with a crankbait, then switched to flipping and pitching jigs and soft plastics as the day wore on. He'd periodically chunk the swimbait in search of kickers.

He had a good opening day that turned spectacular at the tail end. With a half-hour left before he had to head back, he caught a 6-12 that held up for big bass of the event and culled a 3-pounder with it. It was that fish that gave him a lead he would not relinquish.

Day 2 didn't go nearly as well. He made the brutal trip as fast as he could in order to conserve as much fishing time as possible and arrived to find that four of his rods had been broken due to the punishment from the rollers, and the line and all the others had become a major mess.

While he worked on his gear, his co-angler caught about 9 1/2 pounds worth of fish on two casts. Avena got one combo in working order fairly quickly and had a limit within eight throws of a crankbait, but was unable to cull up to the kind of stringer he'd produced the previous day.

Just about everything went right for him on day 3 and he had 18 1/2 pounds in his livewell 15 minutes after he'd begun fishing. After gassing up to head back, he opted to make one final stop and boated a 4 3/4-pounder – his best fish of the day – on his initial cast.

"There's always the chance for a 25-pound bag at Champlain, so you never think you have enough until they go on the scales," he said. "But I knew I'd done all I could. I'd done my best, I'd fished clean and I seemed to make all the right decisions that day.

"I wasn't sure that I'd won, but I thought I'd done well and I knew I had a good shot."

Winning Gear Notes

> Cranking gear: 7'6" medium-heavy Powell 765 CB/SBR rod, Shimano Curado casting reel (5:1 ratio), 16-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon line, Storm Wiggle Wart (shad).

> Flipping gear: 7'1" heavy-action Powell Endurance Series rod, Shimano Curado casting reel (7:1), 22-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon, 1/2-ounce All Terrain Grass Jig (black/blue), Whiskey River Vaquero Craw trailer (black/blue).

> Swimbait gear: Same rod as crankbait, Shimano Curado reel (7:1), 50-pound Power Pro braided line, 1/16-ounce Tru-Tungsten bullet weight, 6/0 Owner Beast hook, Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper (dirty Sanchez).

> Soft stickbait gear: 7' medium-heavy Powell spinning rod, Shimano Stradic spinning reel, 20-pound Power Pro braid main line, 6' Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader, 4/0 Owner Beast hook, Texas-rigged Whiskey River Hoss (watermelon or black/blue).

The Bottom Line

> Main factor in his success – "I knew about those fish last year – I knew they were in that area."

> Performance edge – "I recently got a 2010 Basscat Cougar FTD, and that boat and the Mercury 250 Pro XS motor allowed me to make those long runs in that rough water. It's an awesome rough-water boat."

Final Standings

Field = 114 boats

1. Adrian Avena -- Vineland, NJ -- 5, 21-03 -- 5, 16-10 -- 10, 37-13 -- 5, 20-03 -- 15, 58-00 -- $29,153

2. Aaron Wessels -- Watervliet, NY -- 5, 12-12 -- 5, 20-10 -- 10, 33-06 -- 5, 20-14 -- 15, 54-04 -- $9,995

3. Glenn Babineau -- Mechanicville, NY -- 5, 18-04 -- 5, 18-06 -- 10, 36-10 -- 5, 17-04 -- 15, 53-14 -- $8,330

4. Joe Lucarelli -- Center Harbor, NH -- 5, 18-06 -- 5, 18-07 -- 10, 36-13 -- 5, 16-12 -- 15, 53-09 -- $7,497

5. Thomas Lavictoire Jr -- West Rutland, Vt -- 5, 16-11 -- 5, 17-09 -- 10, 34-04 -- 5, 16-10 -- 15, 50-14 -- $6,664

6. Michael Wolfenden -- Warwick, Ri -- 5, 17-08 -- 5, 16-14 -- 10, 34-06 -- 5, 15-10 -- 15, 50-00 -- $5,831

7. Adam Singer -- Brookfield, Ct -- 5, 16-07 -- 5, 17-06 -- 10, 33-13 -- 5, 13-15 -- 15, 47-12 -- $4,998

8. Craig Townsend -- Mt. Holly, NJ -- 5, 18-02 -- 5, 17-12 -- 10, 35-14 -- 5, 9-13 -- 15, 45-11 -- $4,165

9. James Schneider -- Watervliet, NY -- 5, 18-08 -- 5, 15-03 -- 10, 33-11 -- 5, 10-15 -- 15, 44-10 -- $3,332

10. Chris Adams -- Rutland, Vt -- 5, 16-09 -- 5, 16-14 -- 10, 33-07 -- 5, 11-03 -- 15, 44-10 -- $2,499

The following anglers did not make the cut and did not fish on day 3.

11. David Wolak -- Wake Forest, NC -- 5, 15-09 -- 5, 17-01 -- 10, 32-10 -- $1,666

12. Elton Luce Jr -- Brookeland, Tx -- 5, 16-05 -- 5, 16-00 -- 10, 32-05 -- $1,666

13. Phillip Colarusso Jr -- Ballston Spa, NY -- 5, 15-03 -- 5, 16-05 -- 10, 31-08 -- $1,666

14. Jenoah McLeod -- Burlington, Vt -- 5, 16-02 -- 5, 15-06 -- 10, 31-08 -- $1,666

15. Cory Johnston -- Peterborough, On -- 5, 16-12 -- 5, 14-10 -- 10, 31-06 -- $1,666

16. Jason Knapp -- Uniontown, Pa -- 5, 15-00 -- 5, 16-05 -- 10, 31-05 -- $1,249

17. Kraig Kettelkamp -- Clifton Springs, NY -- 5, 14-15 -- 5, 16-04 -- 10, 31-03 -- $1,249

18. John Lorenzo -- Kane, Pa -- 5, 15-12 -- 5, 15-06 -- 10, 31-02 -- $1,249

19. George Lambeth -- Thomasville, NC -- 5, 15-10 -- 5, 15-02 -- 10, 30-12 -- $1,249

20. Lon Fleming -- Piedmont, SC -- 5, 15-00 -- 5, 15-05 -- 10, 30-05 -- $1,249

21. Trevor Knight -- Magnolia, De -- 5, 16-14 -- 5, 13-05 -- 10, 30-03 -- $1,166

22. Chad Pipkens -- Holt, Mi -- 5, 16-15 -- 5, 13-03 -- 10, 30-02 -- $1,166

23. Bob Izumi -- Milton, On -- 5, 15-08 -- 5, 14-02 -- 10, 29-10 -- $1,166

24. Robert Vogelsang -- Jessup, Md -- 5, 13-10 -- 5, 15-15 -- 10, 29-09 -- $1,166

25. Brian Hensley -- Edwardsburg, Mi -- 5, 16-07 -- 5, 12-15 -- 10, 29-06 -- $1,166

26. Skip Sjobeck -- Randolph, Vt -- 5, 19-15 -- 4, 9-06 -- 9, 29-05 -- $1,083

27. Jimmy Kennedy -- Plainfield, Vt -- 5, 15-00 -- 5, 14-04 -- 10, 29-04 -- $1,083

28. Charles Main -- Ellwood, Pa -- 5, 18-07 -- 5, 10-10 -- 10, 29-01 -- $1,083

29. Tom Belinda -- Holidaysburg, Pa -- 5, 15-12 -- 5, 13-04 -- 10, 29-00 -- $1,083

30. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, On -- 5, 15-00 -- 5, 13-13 -- 10, 28-13 -- $1,083

31. Tim Aldrich -- Shutesbury, Ma -- 5, 15-09 -- 5, 13-02 -- 10, 28-11 -- $1,000

32. Jess Caraballo -- Danbury, Ct -- 5, 15-01 -- 5, 13-10 -- 10, 28-11 -- $1,000

33. Bill Chapman -- Salt Rock, WV -- 5, 14-07 -- 5, 13-09 -- 10, 28-00 -- $1,000

34. Merle Wells Jr -- Hammond, NY -- 5, 15-14 -- 5, 11-13 -- 10, 27-11 -- $1,000

35. Todd A. Truax -- Canton, Oh -- 5, 16-15 -- 5, 10-07 -- 10, 27-06 -- $1,000

36. Harold Marietta -- Hunker, Pa -- 5, 12-03 -- 5, 15-02 -- 10, 27-05 -- $1,000

37. Eric Foltin -- Lebanon, Pa -- 5, 12-14 -- 5, 14-07 -- 10, 27-05 -- $1,000

38. Larry Allard -- Ware, Ma -- 5, 14-05 -- 5, 12-15 -- 10, 27-04 -- $1,000

39. Rob Webster -- Janetville, On -- 5, 14-13 -- 5, 12-01 -- 10, 26-14

40. Bill Spence -- St. Albans, Vt -- 5, 14-00 -- 5, 12-13 -- 10, 26-13

41. George Martin -- Little Valley, NY -- 5, 13-14 -- 5, 12-15 -- 10, 26-13

42. Gary Longley -- So. Londonderry, Vt -- 5, 14-09 -- 5, 12-02 -- 10, 26-11

43. Randy Yarnall -- Womelsdorf, Pa -- 5, 13-15 -- 5, 12-12 -- 10, 26-11

44. Mike Comeau -- Winooski, Vt -- 5, 12-10 -- 5, 13-11 -- 10, 26-05

45. Matt Stoupa -- Colonial Heights, Va -- 5, 18-09 -- 5, 7-11 -- 10, 26-04

46. Nick Gainey -- Charleston, SC -- 5, 14-01 -- 5, 12-03 -- 10, 26-04

47. Mike Mcdonald -- Randleman, NC -- 5, 9-14 -- 5, 16-05 -- 10, 26-03

48. Jim Gildea -- Weston, Ma -- 5, 12-03 -- 5, 13-15 -- 10, 26-02

49. Gregg Seal -- Eldred, Pa -- 5, 10-13 -- 5, 15-03 -- 10, 26-00

50. Jason Ober -- Johnstown, Pa -- 5, 14-07 -- 5, 11-03 -- 10, 25-10

51. Josh Giran -- Elizabeth, Pa -- 5, 14-09 -- 5, 11-00 -- 10, 25-09

52. Dale Brown -- Alburg, Vt -- 5, 12-15 -- 5, 12-02 -- 10, 25-01

53. Curtis Richardson -- Belleville, On -- 5, 11-15 -- 5, 12-11 -- 10, 24-10

54. Daniel Welch -- New Martinsville, WV -- 5, 13-10 -- 5, 10-12 -- 10, 24-06

55. Mike Neilson -- Markham, On -- 5, 13-08 -- 5, 10-14 -- 10, 24-06

56. Doug Iorio -- Kennerdell, Pa -- 5, 7-08 -- 5, 16-13 -- 10, 24-05

57. Mike Kozell -- Lancaster, NY -- 5, 13-07 -- 5, 10-14 -- 10, 24-05

58. Joseph Sancho -- New Windsor, NY -- 5, 12-09 -- 5, 11-09 -- 10, 24-02

59. Ron Grove -- Alexandria, Pa -- 5, 13-14 -- 5, 10-00 -- 10, 23-14

60. Gaspare Costabile -- Niagara Falls, On -- 5, 10-13 -- 5, 12-07 -- 10, 23-04

61. Dave Rochette -- Bracebridge, On -- 5, 12-07 -- 5, 10-11 -- 10, 23-02

62. Steve Deguzis -- Bristol, Ct -- 5, 10-14 -- 5, 12-02 -- 10, 23-00

63. Mike Branham -- Alexandria, Va -- 5, 12-09 -- 5, 10-03 -- 10, 22-12

64. Kevin Short -- Mayflower, Ar -- 5, 11-01 -- 5, 11-08 -- 10, 22-09

65. Ron Brown -- Mount Pleasant, SC -- 5, 11-14 -- 5, 10-09 -- 10, 22-07

66. Bruce Wellington -- Poughkeepsie, NY -- 5, 13-04 -- 5, 9-02 -- 10, 22-06

67. Paul Kimball -- Glastonbury, Ct -- 5, 10-01 -- 5, 12-02 -- 10, 22-03

68. Ron Plocek -- Jamesville, NY -- 5, 10-05 -- 5, 11-12 -- 10, 22-01

69. Larry Evans -- Southpoint, Oh -- 5, 9-01 -- 5, 12-12 -- 10, 21-13

70. Ed Casey -- Whiteford, Md -- 5, 12-07 -- 5, 9-06 -- 10, 21-13

71. Brad Rightnour -- Mingoville, Pa -- 5, 12-14 -- 5, 8-14 -- 10, 21-12

72. Troy Garrison -- Topsham, Me -- 5, 12-11 -- 5, 9-01 -- 10, 21-12

73. Ryan Powroznik -- Prince George, Va -- 5, 11-05 -- 5, 10-07 -- 10, 21-12

74. Rex Johnsonbaugh -- Altoona, Pa -- 5, 10-02 -- 5, 11-05 -- 10, 21-07

75. James (Jim) Wigal -- Washington, Pa -- 5, 10-04 -- 5, 11-01 -- 10, 21-05

76. Paul Noechel -- Lost Creek, WV -- 5, 10-08 -- 5, 10-09 -- 10, 21-01

77. Garry Woodruff -- Candia, NH -- 5, 11-05 -- 5, 9-11 -- 10, 21-00

78. Robin Roystan -- Bath, NH -- 5, 12-02 -- 5, 8-13 -- 10, 20-15

79. Robert Montgomery -- Connelsville, Pa -- 5, 9-11 -- 5, 11-04 -- 10, 20-15

80. Masahiro Yanase -- Knoxville, Tn -- 5, 11-01 -- 5, 9-14 -- 10, 20-15

81. Howard Hammonds -- Westport, NY -- 5, 12-10 -- 5, 8-03 -- 10, 20-13

82. Kevin Jenckes -- New Durham, NH -- 5, 11-04 -- 5, 9-07 -- 10, 20-11

83. Casey Lyon -- Eden, Vt -- 5, 7-14 -- 5, 12-08 -- 10, 20-06

84. Edward Ferrara -- Staten Island, NY -- 5, 7-05 -- 5, 12-15 -- 10, 20-04

85. Joseph Fonzi -- Gasport, NY -- 5, 9-10 -- 5, 10-04 -- 10, 19-14

86. Ronald Martinez Jr. -- Valley View, Oh -- 5, 11-01 -- 5, 8-05 -- 10, 19-06

87. Robert Degrandcourt -- Clarksville, Va -- 5, 8-15 -- 5, 10-04 -- 10, 19-03

88. Burley Warf -- Moneta, Va -- 5, 8-14 -- 5, 9-11 -- 10, 18-09

89. Jim Tedesco -- Niagara Falls, On -- 4, 8-00 -- 4, 10-02 -- 8, 18-02

90. Larry Materia -- Boonton, NJ -- 5, 6-05 -- 5, 11-07 -- 10, 17-12

91. Bill Chambers -- North Bay, On -- 5, 9-00 -- 5, 8-10 -- 10, 17-10

92. Gary Barone -- State College, Pa -- 5, 11-06 -- 2, 6-03 -- 7, 17-09

93. Michael Conway -- Glenville, NY -- 4, 6-15 -- 5, 10-00 -- 9, 16-15

94. Scott Cooke -- Marengo, Oh -- 5, 13-12 -- 1, 2-15 -- 6, 16-11

95. William Roe -- Norton, Ma -- 5, 9-14 -- 3, 6-04 -- 8, 16-02

96. Scott Nagy -- Saint-Lambert, Qc -- 5, 7-11 -- 5, 8-02 -- 10, 15-13

97. Mike Hancin -- North Franklin, Ct -- 5, 3-03 -- 5, 12-06 -- 10, 15-09

98. Tommy Lee -- Oakville, On -- 5, 10-06 -- 2, 4-05 -- 7, 14-11

99. Matt Stasiak -- Pittsburgh, Pa -- 5, 6-01 -- 5, 8-01 -- 10, 14-02

100. Rob Lamoy -- Chazy, NY -- 5, 14-01 -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 14-01

101. Derrick Martineau -- Au Sable Forks, NY -- 3, 4-09 -- 5, 8-11 -- 8, 13-04

102. Matthew Applebaum -- Johnson, Vt -- 5, 12-14 -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 12-14

103. Marc Saracene -- Webster, NY -- 5, 11-14 -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 11-14

104. Billy Micciulla -- Staten Island, NY -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 11-11 -- 5, 11-11

105. Sheron Brown -- Shirley, Ma -- 5, 10-08 -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 10-08

106. Red Moore -- Graham, NC -- 4, 6-12 -- 2, 3-09 -- 6, 10-05

107. Jeff Hippert -- Hamburg, NY -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 9-09 -- 5, 9-09

108. Keith Allen -- Colorado Springs, Co -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 9-04 -- 5, 9-04

109. Jack Gifford -- East Woodstock, Ct -- 5, 8-00 -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 8-00

110. Will Jefferies -- Bountiful, Ut -- 5, 7-15 -- 0, 0-00 -- 5, 7-15

111. Art Vengels -- Bensalem, Pa -- 5, 0-00 -- 5, 7-13 -- 10, 7-13

112. Steve Lucarelli -- Meredith, NH -- 3, 7-03 -- 0, 0-00 -- 3, 7-03

113. Peter Brown Jr -- Kingston, Ma -- 3, 4-07 -- 0, 0-00 -- 3, 4-07

Steve Oleksyn. -- Rochester, NY -- 0, 0-00 -- 0, 0-00 -- 0, 0-00