Comeback Kids – Last Man In

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By Dan O’Sullivan

This week marks the beginning of the second half of the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule.  The start of the Pride of Georgia tournament at West Point Lake means that anglers only have four tournaments to hold onto their position in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings or make the climb back into qualifying range for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.

The 2011 season has seen a significant amount of change in the standings.  Anglers who have earned a reputation for steadiness have slipped, some who have been middle of the field performers have risen to prominence and some who have been good in the past have been building career years.

Shaw1Part of the reason for the difference is the nature of sport in general; things change.  Fishing is a sport of decision making, and the difference between in the money and out can be a split second decision that changes the outcome of a day; and therefore a tournament.

In the springtime, a boat draw can be a huge difference as well.  With sightfishing being a dominating technique, getting a late boat draw can put your whole day on the scrap heap.  Anglers who locate several quality bass on beds can arrive to find every one of them being fished by another angler, or worse yet; already caught.

Another reason for the shakeup is the opening two weeks in Florida.  No other type of fishery in the country separates a field like the state of Florida.  Being the site of Dean Rojas’ record 45-pound, 2-ounce record heaviest one day catch, people believe Florida is a big fish state.  While it most certainly is a big fish state, Florida is also a fickle state for tournament anglers.  Anglers can have two giant days, a mediocre day and a small limit and still win.  However, miss the big bite, and an angler is in the bottom third of a field faster than he could ever consider.

With all of these factors to consider, there are still the final standings to determine the 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and who will be receiving invitations to the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.  One wrinkle that is new for 2011 is that a winner of an Elite Series event earns instant qualification to the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, but that same invite is extended to winners of Bassmaster Open tournaments.

Qualifiers

Since the inception of the Elite Series in 2006, the top 36 anglers in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Standings received berths into the Bassmaster Classic in February the following year.  Along with those 36 Anglers, the defending Classic Champion received an automatic berth into the following year’s event.

Kevin VanDam Day Three Start the Confetti (Large)The game changed for 2011.  The winners of the eight regular season Bassmaster Elite Series events received and automatic berth into the Classic, as did the defending Bassmaster Classic Champion.  What this meant to the remainder of the field was that; without a win, they would have to finish in the top 28 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings to be assured a berth.

Should all of the eight regular season winners finish in the top 28 positions in the standings; they would have earned double qualification.  Their double qualification would mean that the invitations to the Bassmaster Classic would slide to 36th place in the standings.  Should the Bassmaster Classic Champion also finish in the top 28, then that would also open up another spot, and the top 37 of the Bassmaster Elite Series would qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.

Elite Pros Already Qualified

By nature of the “win and you’re in” rule, four anglers have already earned their berths into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.  Shaw Grigsby earned his spot at the season opening Sunshine Showdown on the Harris Chain.  Edwin Evers also earned his slot by winning the Citrus Slam on the St. John’s River.  Davy Hite’s win at the Alabama Charge earned him his chance at a second Bassmaster Classic trophy while Dean Rojas’ ticket to the Classic was punched when he won the Battle on the Bayou at Toledo Bend Reservoir.

One other Elite Series pro; Gerald Swindle, has earned a trip to the Bassmaster Classic by winning a Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Toho.  Swindle was in fact the first angler to qualify for the event when he won on Florida in January.
Kevin VanDam was the second angler to qualify for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic when he won the 2011 Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta in February.

Bassmaster St John's River Winner Edwin EversWhere Do We Stand to Date?

As of the completion of the Battle on the Bayou, all four of the individual tournament winners and the defending Classic Champion find themselves positioned in the top 28.  That means that the current qualifying list would reach down to 33rd place.

What that means is that if the season were to end today, Brent Chapman with 784 points would be the last man into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport / Bossier City, La.

Simple Projections

Assuming that the five double qualified anglers stayed in the top 28, then one simple way to make a projection is to divide the points of the last man in qualifying positon by the number of tournaments held, then multiply that number by eight; the number of tournaments for the whole season.  In this case the average for Chapman would be 196 points per tournament fished; which would make his eight season total 1568 points; an average finish of 39th place over the eight event season.
To be statistically guaranteed a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, and angler would need to finish in the top 28 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.  Staying with our simple figuring of the season totals thus far, Kevin Wirth currently ranks 28th with a total of 811 points, 202.75 points per event; an average finish of 36th place.

So, if an angler wants to guarantee themselves a berth with a top 28 position in the standings, then they would need to earn 1622 points for the year.  Of course the point totals can creep up, or slide back, but an angler who wants to aim for a shot at the Classic can use this as a basis for aiming for the their average finish for the remaining four events of the 2011 season.

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Historical Comeback Kids
According to Bassmaster Senior Editor Ken Duke; who keeps very detailed statistical records of all things B.A.S.S., there is some precedence for anglers making a late season charge into the Classic.  Duke’s records indicate that Jeff Kriet moved from 59th place in the standings with four tournaments left in the season to finish 14th in the standings.  Paul Elias qualified in 2010 by climbing from 58th to 37th in the standings, and earning a berth because of double qualifiers.

In 2009, Gerald Swindle earned a spot in the postseason when he finished 12th in the standing after the regular season.  Swindle’s season did not start out so well, and in fact; he found himself in 57th place following the third event of the year.

Another angler who made a big move that year was Tommy Biffle, who moved from 17th place to 7th position in the final event of the season; he too fished in the 2009 Postseason in Alabama.

Who Has a Shot?

With all of the above considerations in mind, who has a legitimate shot at getting into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic?  Here is a by the numbers look at what anglers need to finish to make it in:

Place Angler State Points After Four Events Average Points per Finish Projected Total Points Needed to Reach 1622 Average Points for Remainder of the Season Average Finish Needed to Finish in Top 28
1 Alton Jones  Texas 1096 274 2192 526 131.5 72nd
2 Terry Scroggins  Fla. 1040 260 2080 582 145.5 65th
3 Kevin VanDam  Mich. 982 245.5 1964 640 160 57th
4 Chris Lane  Ala. 947 236.75 1894 675 168.75 53rd
5 Jeff Kriet  Okla. 934 233.5 1868 688 172 51st
6 Steve Kennedy  Ala. 932 233 1864 690 172.5 51st
7 Fred Roumbanis  Okla. 925 231.25 1850 697 174.25 50th
8 Dean Rojas  Ariz. 915 228.75 1830 707 176.75 48th
9 Ott Defoe  Tenn. 900 225 1800 722 180.5 47th
10 Shaw Grigsby  Fla. 889 222.25 1778 733 183.25 45th
11 Pat Golden  N.C. 886 221.5 1772 736 184 45th
12 Gerald Swindle  Ala. 878 219.5 1756 744 186 44th
13 Davy Hite  S.C. 870 217.5 1740 752 188 43rd
14 Edwin Evers  Okla. 864 216 1728 758 189.5 42nd
15 Stephen Browning  Ark. 863 215.75 1726 759 189.75 42nd
16 Michael Iaconelli  N.J. 858 214.5 1716 764 191 42nd
17 Dustin Wilks  N.C. 857 214.25 1714 765 191.25 41st
18 Aaron Martens  Ala. 853 213.25 1706 769 192.25 41st
19 Todd Faircloth  Texas 850 212.5 1700 772 193 41st
20 Andy Montgomery  S.C. 845 211.25 1690 777 194.25 40th
21 Jason Williamson  S.C. 844 211 1688 778 194.5 40th
22 Keith Poche  Ala. 842 210.5 1684 780 195 40th
23 Casey Ashley  S.C. 837 209.25 1674 785 196.25 39th
24 Randy Howell  Ala. 827 206.75 1654 795 198.75 38th
25 John Crews  Va. 820 205 1640 802 200.5 37th
26 Kelly Jordon  Texas 816 204 1632 806 201.5 36th
27 Jared Lintner  Calif. 815 203.75 1630 807 201.75 36th
28 Kevin Wirth  Ky. 811 202.75 1622 811 202.75 36th
29 Peter Thliveros  Fla. 802 200.5 1604 820 205 35th
30 Greg Vinson  Ala. 800 200 1600 822 205.5 34th
31 Bobby Lane  Fla. 790 197.5 1580 832 208 33rd
32 Cliff Crochet  La. 785 196.25 1570 837 209.25 32nd
33 Brent Chapman  Kan. 784 196 1568 838 209.5 32nd
34 Cliff Pace  Miss. 782 195.5 1564 840 210 32nd
35 David Walker  Tenn. 769 192.25 1538 853 213.25 30th
36 Bill Lowen  Ind. 768 192 1536 854 213.5 30th
37 Matt Reed  Texas 767 191.75 1534 855 213.75 30th
38 J Todd Tucker  Ga. 765 191.25 1530 857 214.25 30th
39 Brandon Palaniuk  Idaho 762 190.5 1524 860 215 30th
40 Greg Hackney  La. 759 189.75 1518 863 215.75 29th
41 Matt Greenblatt  Fla. 755 188.75 1510 867 216.75 29th
42 Rick Morris  Va. 752 188 1504 870 217.5 28th
43 Keith Combs  Texas 749 187.25 1498 873 218.25 28th
44 Jason Quinn  S.C. 742 185.5 1484 880 220 27th
45 Denny Brauer  Mo. 740 185 1480 882 220.5 27th
46 Matt Herren  Ala. 736 184 1472 886 221.5 26th
47 Gary Klein  Texas 732 183 1464 890 222.5 26th
48 Dave Wolak  N.C. 730 182.5 1460 892 223 26th
49 Timmy Horton  Ala. 728 182 1456 894 223.5 25th
50 Paul Elias  Miss. 726 181.5 1452 896 224 25th
51 Billy McCaghren  Ark. 715 178.75 1430 907 226.75 24th
52 Marty Robinson  S.C. 702 175.5 1404 920 230 22nd
53 James Niggemeyer  Texas 697 174.25 1394 925 231.25 21st
54 Brian Snowden  Mo. 676 169 1352 946 236.5 19th
55 Zell Rowland  Texas 676 169 1352 946 236.5 19th
56 Jeff Connella  La. 674 168.5 1348 948 237 19th
57 Mark Davis  Ark. 674 168.5 1348 948 237 19th
58 Craig Schuff  Texas 672 168 1344 950 237.5 18th
59 Ish Monroe  Calif. 665 166.25 1330 957 239.25 17th
60 Clark Reehm  Texas 658 164.5 1316 964 241 17th
61 Jonathon VanDam  Mich. 647 161.75 1294 975 243.75 15th
62 Grant Goldbeck  Texas 644 161 1288 978 244.5 15th
63 Takahiro Omori  Texas 640 160 1280 982 245.5 14th
64 Boyd Duckett  Ala. 638 159.5 1276 984 246 14th
65 John Murray  Ariz. 638 159.5 1276 984 246 14th
66 James Stricklin  Texas 637 159.25 1274 985 246.25 14th
67 Skeet Reese  Calif. 632 158 1264 990 247.5 14th
68 Rick Clunn  Mo. 626 156.5 1252 996 249 13th
69 Jami Fralick  S.D. 624 156 1248 998 249.5 13th
70 Mike McClelland  Ark. 624 156 1248 998 249.5 13th
71 Charlie Hartley  Ohio 619 154.75 1238 1003 250.75 13th
72 Nate Wellman  Mich. 619 154.75 1238 1003 250.75 13th
73 Mark Menendez  Ky. 600 150 1200 1022 255.5 11th
74 Russ Lane  Ala. 598 149.5 1196 1024 256 11th
75 Yusuke Miyazaki  Texas 598 149.5 1196 1024 256 11th
76 Dean Alexander  Texas 594 148.5 1188 1028 257 10th
77 Ben Parker  Tenn. 590 147.5 1180 1032 258 10th
78 Kenyon Hill  Okla. 590 147.5 1180 1032 258 10th
79 Kevin Short  Ark. 584 146 1168 1038 259.5 10th
80 Travis Manson  Wisc. 570 142.5 1140 1052 263 9th
81 Britt Myers  S.C. 564 141 1128 1058 264.5 8th
82 Scott Rook  Ark. 564 141 1128 1058 264.5 8th
83 Chad Griffin  Texas 562 140.5 1124 1060 265 8th
84 Tommy Biffle  Okla. 546 136.5 1092 1076 269 7th
85 Lee Sisson  Fla. 544 136 1088 1078 269.5 7th
86 Russell Parrish  Texas 540 135 1080 1082 270.5 7th
87 Bradley Roy  Ky. 534 133.5 1068 1088 272 7th
88 Bernie Schultz  Fla. 506 126.5 1012 1116 279 5th
89 Kotaro Kiriyama  Ala. 502 125.5 1004 1120 280 5th
90 Dennis Tietje  La. 498 124.5 996 1124 281 4th
91 Ryan Said  Mich. 496 124 992 1126 281.5 4th
92 Scott Ashmore  Okla. 496 124 992 1126 281.5 4th
93 Morizo Shimizu  Japan 492 123 984 1130 282.5 4th
94 Bradley Hallman  Okla. 468 117 936 1154 288.5 3rd
95 Pete Ponds  Miss. 460 115 920 1162 290.5 2nd
96 Terry Butcher  Okla. 452 113 904 1170 292.5 2nd
97 Derek Remitz  Ala. 375 93.75 750 1247 311.75 1st (+ bonus points)
98 David Smith  Okla. 366 91.5 732 1256 314 1st (+ bonus points)
99 Brent Broderick  Ohio 338 84.5 676 1284 321 1st (+ bonus points)