McClelland wins Berkley Heavyweight Award

Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., collected enough pounds and ounces of bass throughout the Bassmaster Elite Series season to win the 2008 Berkley Heavyweight Award. McClelland, finished in the top three in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, received $20,000 for his Berkley Heavyweight effort at the season-ending Champion's Choice presented by Ramada Worldwide on Oneida Lake out of Syracuse, N.Y.

Introduced in 2007 to the Bassmaster Elite Series, the Berkley Heavyweight Award is presented to the angler who catches the heaviest total weight of bass through the first two days of all 11 Elite Series events of the season.

McClelland's final Berkley Heavyweight tally was 368 pounds, 9 ounces. That was nearly 16 pounds better than the weight posted by runner-up Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., the 2008 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. VanDam, who won the inaugural Berkley Heavyweight Award in 2007, earned $10,000 for this year's second-place effort.

"It's cool to win this award," said McClelland, who made the top-12 cut Saturday and will compete Sunday for the Champion's Choice trophy and $100,000 first-place prize. "It's a true test, bringing in the most weight while going up against a full field of competitors the first two days of competition at every event — more than 100 pros."

Helping McClelland's cause was his season-opening victory at the Sunshine Showdown on the Harris Chain of Lakes out of Leesburg, Fla. Through the first two days, McClelland had more than 30 pounds.

Finishing third in the Berkley Heavyweight standings was Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, with 344 pounds, 0 ounces. He won $5,000.

2008 Berkley Heavyweight Award

1. Mike McClelland      368-9   $20,000

2. Kevin VanDam         352-10  $10,000

3. Todd Faircloth       344-0    $5,000

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