Top 12 all in contention today

Based on the first two days, it's easy to build the case that any of today's 12 finalists could win the Bassmaster Central Open. The Arkansas River has produced plenty of evidence this week.

The most obvious example is Greg Hackney's fall from a first-place bag of 18 pounds, 1 ounce on Day 1 to a Day 2 1-bass, 2-pound total that dropped him all the way down to a 22nd place finish.

In the other direction was Keith Poche, who didn't lock through in time to make his check-in and was one of 28 anglers who zeroed on Day 1. He rallied with the heaviest five-bass limit of the tournament - 19 pounds, 5 ounces - on Day 2 and jumped up to 27th place in the 192-pro angler field.

Consistency, so hard to achieve on the Arkansas River, is the key here. Today's leader, Dale Hightower of nearby Mannford, Okla., was practically forced into consistency yesterday. The Elite Series pro had planned to lock back down to Kerr Lake, but decided to scrap that plan when there was a barge in the lock upon his arrival. As it turned out, the lock opened soon afterwards and plenty of other anglers continued to Kerr.

"If I would have known, I might have stayed because they did lock them through about 7:30," Hightower said. "But in hindsight, I'm kind of glad it happened the way it did. I stayed up there and caught a respectable bag."

Hightower had 15-0 in the Kerr pool on Day 1 and 13-1 in the Webbers Falls pool on Day 2 for a total of 28-1. His lead over second-place John Garrett is only 1-5, and it's only 1-13 over third-place Cody Huff.

The margin from first to 12th is 5-14. Based on what's happened the first two days on the Arkansas River, all 12 anglers are in contention for the title today.

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