One Last Hurrah

The Bassmaster Elite Series season is just one event away from BASS' first-ever postseason. For the pros, that means one last chance to climb into the Top 12 and qualify to fish the two postseason events ...

The Bassmaster Elite Series season is just one event away from BASS' first-ever postseason. For the pros, that means one last chance to climb into the Top 12 and qualify to fish the two postseason events or one last chance to fight their way into the top 37 and a Bassmaster Classic berth in 2010.Those are two very different goals for two very different groups of anglers.In the first group — those fighting to make the postseason and earn a chance to win the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award — are the fishermen currently ranked in the Top 20 or so. Any lower and you have two things working against you: (1) you've got to have a great tournament at Oneida Lake and (2) you need to "leapfrog" too many others to get there.In the second group — those trying to guarantee a spot in the 2010 Classic — are those ranked from about 25th to 50th in the AOY standings. None of them are truly "safe." Those higher in the standings could fall out of the top 37 (the top 36 anglers go to the Classic, and since the defending champ — Skeet Reese — gets an automatic berth and is among the top 36, the list will run down to the top 37) and those lower in the standings could elevate themselves quite a bit with a Top 5 or 10 finish.So who's looking good?Well, for those aiming for the postseason, Tommy Biffle (currently 13th) is looking good. Yes, he's currently outside the Top 12 by a spot, but he's strong at Oneida, winning there in 2006 and finishing 16th in 2008. Expect the man from Oklahoma to move up and to be fishing in September, when the postseason rolls around.Another angler who might make a move is Steve Kennedy. He's currently 20th, which is not a great position to be in, but he's pretty good at Oneida, too. He was 30th in 2006, 19th in 2008 and finished second there in the Bassmaster Memorial of 2007. A good tournament this year and a few breaks here and there could put Kennedy in the postseason.And look for Michael Iaconelli to solidify his spot in the Top 12 at Oneida. Of all the Elite pros, Ike might have the best claim to "owning" that pond. In three previous trips there, he's never finished lower than 10th and he was third last year. Expect him to move into the top four going into the postseason, and then simply look out. The two postseason venues — Lake Jordon and the Alabama River — also play to his strengths.On the other end of things, for the anglers fighting to fish the 2010 Classic, things are no less desperate or contested. Rookie Billy McCaghren is the "bubble boy" right now. He sits in 38th place — on the outside looking in.Other notables in jeopardy of missing next year's Classic include Tim Horton (39th), who has been to 10 straight Classics, Denny Brauer (40th), Terry Scroggins (41st), Dean Rojas (44th), Edwin Evers (51st) and Rick Clunn (52nd). They'll not only need strong performances at Oneida, but will also need some help in the form of higher-ranked anglers slipping several places.Bradley Hallman (33rd) is currently the only angler in the top 37 who has never been to a Classic, and Matt Herren (who fished his first Classic in 2009) is the only Elite rookie in that group. Unless Oneida really shakes things up, it looks to be a very veteran field headed to the 2010 Classic from the Elite Series.

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