In reading Mark Hicks' on-the-water blog, I'm happy to hear that Brandon Palaniuk has a quality limit. He had a good day yesterday (11-5 for ninth place) and needs nothing short of a win in one of the remaining Elite events (or a Northern Open) if he hopes to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
Palaniuk is 97th (out of 100) in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race going into this event. He's had a dismal season so far after a very strong Classic. His start has been so bad that he has almost no chance of qualifying for the Classic without a win. If he hopes to get there without the benefit of "win-and-you're-in," Palaniuk would need to average about a 20th place finish in the remaining Elite events, beginning with this one at West Point.
Before you say, "He can do it!" you should know that averaging a 20th place finish for five straight tournaments at the Elite level is AOY-type stuff. Only one or two anglers a year do it, and Palaniuk has never shown that he's at that level — at least not yet. In fact, he's one of the streakiest competitors in the sport. More often than not, he sandwiches a strong performance between a couple of weak ones.
Last year he pulled it off. He won the Elite event at Bull Shoals and qualified for the Classic. Without that win, he wouldn't have made it.