Mid-season evaluation: Part 1

Commentators on the "big-time" sports always have some sort of mid-season analysis to review what's transpired at the halfway point of the NFL, MLB or NBA season. It's a good time to evaluate what's going on and to project the next half of the year.

Since I don't want us to be outdone by those other sports, here's a look at the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series season ... so far.

Let's start with the anglers who are already winners — the ones who have punched their tickets to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. That would include Chris Lane (winner of the 2012 Classic and Harris Chain Southern Open), Brent Chapman (Lewisville Central Open), Alton Jones (St. Johns Elite), Ish Monroe (Okeechobee Elite), Tracy Adams (Norman Southern Open), Brandon Palaniuk (Bull Shoals Elite), Casey Scanlon (Table Rock Central Open) and Jeremy Starks (Douglas Elite). They've already achieved one of the big goals that every angler sets for himself at the beginning of the season.

Unlike last year, when all but one of the Elite events were won by anglers who ranked in the top 28 of the AOY standings, this year's winners are spread throughout the ranks. Jeremy Starks (currently 13th in AOY) and Alton Jones (23rd) are on pace to double qualify and open up additional Classic spots among the Elites (to the 29th and 30th ranked anglers in the AOY standings). Ish Monroe and Brandon Palaniuk are 47th and 73rd, respectively. They needed their Elite wins to get into the Classic.

On the Opens side of things, Brent Chapman looks to double qualify on the strength of his win at Lake Lewisville and third place ranking in AOY. Chris Lane's win on the Harris Chain, Classic championship and current 22nd-place among AOY contenders makes him a candidate to triple qualify. Casey Scanlon's win at Table Rock was a real break for the Elite rookie, who's currently 78th in AOY.

The Elites are guaranteed 28 Classic berths. If the season ended today, there would be five additional berths going to Elite anglers by virtue of Lane's Classic championship and Open win, Chapman's Open win, and the Elite wins of Jones and Starks.

So who's in and who's out. Well, the notable anglers who would be fishing the 2013 Classic would include Classic rookies like Brandon Card, Britt Myers, Starks, Kyle Fox, Bradley Roy, J Todd Tucker and Nate Wellman.

On the outside looking in would be such perennial qualifiers and big names as Michael Iaconelli, Rick Clunn, Mark Davis, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Martens, Boyd Duckett, Gary Klein, Takahiro Omori, Casey Ashley, Davy Hite, Denny Brauer, Paul Elias and Tim Horton as well as the second and third place finishers at this year's Classic — Greg Vinson and Keith Poche.

Taking a look at the rookies, it's been the Brandon Card Show, so far. He ranks fourth overall in AOY, and his closest challenger for Rookie of the Year honors, Kyle Fox, is 38 points back in 17th. Card is showing the kind of consistency that Ott DeFoe had last year. In fact, this season he's out-DeFoe-ing DeFoe, who ranks one place behind him in the AOY race. The second (David Walker), fourth and fifth place anglers are all from Tennessee.

Halfway through the season, only nine Elite anglers have made the first cut (top 50) in all four tournaments: Card, DeFoe, Howell, Bill Lowen, Starks, Gerald Swindle, J Todd Tucker, KVD and Walker. Eight others have missed every cut: Brauer, Jami Fralick, Chad Griffin, Jared Miller, Bernie Schultz, Kevin Short, Michael Simonton and Dave Smith.

Next time we'll look at the AOY race and assess Kevin VanDam's chances at a five-peat.

Spoiler alert!

His chances are not good.

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