And if DeFoe's position doesn't shock you, there are plenty of other surprises in the AOY standings. Brent Chapman — the defending AOY — is 51st; David Walker is 52nd; Chris Lane is 54th; Michael Iaconelli is 57th; Davy Hite is 62nd; Shaw Grigsby is 65th and Randy Howell is 77th. Walker, Ike and Howell have never ranked so low at the the halfway mark. In fact, at this time last year, Howell was leading the AOY race.
None of those anglers is "done" for the year, but they all have hills to climb if they want to make the 2014 Classic. Lane, in particular, would hate to miss the championship on his adopted home lake. Iaconelli's last win was on Guntersville (2006), and he hasn't missed a Classic since 2001. And could Chapman follow up the best year of his career with his worst finish in Elite history?
"Win-and-you're-in" has met with mixed reactions since it became part of the Bassmaster Classic qualifying process a couple of years ago. On one hand, it takes berths away from anglers who were consistently solid over the course of a full season. On the other, it keeps everyone in the hunt until the final fish is weighed in the last Elite Series event and Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open.
And it certainly gives Elite anglers something to think about at the midseason point. To say that everyone still has a chance to qualify on AOY points is disingenuous. At some stage and ranking, an angler's only realistic chance to make the Classic is to win an Elite tournament.
For those anglers ranked 65th or lower, that time is now. It's time to "swing for the fences," "go for broke," and find all the "stops" so you can pull them out. Your best chance to get to the big dance is no longer to keep your head down, take it one day at a time and let the game come to you. You need to win one for "the Gipper" ... or maybe "the Flipper" (or whatever other nickname you like). Your ticket to the big dance is a big blue trophy.
Why 65th and worse? Because every year since the inception of the Elite Series, at the midway point someone ranked around 60th has pulled it out, had a tremendous second half and earned his way to the Classic on points. Jeff Kriet did it from 59th in 2009; Paul Elias was 58th when he turned things around in 2010; and in each of the last two years it was Takahiro Omori who worked miracles to get to the Classic (he was 63rd in 2011 and 60th last year after four events).
Yes, 2013 has been interesting and should be even more so in the final four Elite tournaments. The first half is over. The second half starts ... now.