History weighing heavy on Cherry

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — All you had to do was take a look at weary Hank Cherry as he came to the media room after Saturday’s weigh-in to understand the burden of leading the Bassmaster Classic the first two days. And it became even clearer why a fellow competitor looked at the reporters gathered around Cherry after Friday’s weigh-in and said, ““I wouldn’t want to be Hank Cherry. You do not want to be leading this thing. Not on Day 1.”

With recent history as proof, you do not want to be leading the Classic any other time than the final day, when the champion is crowned. The last time the Day 2 leader won the Classic was at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake in 2013. Cliff Pace was also the last man to win wire-to-wire, as he was tied with Mike Iaconelli for first after Day 1 at Grand.

If Cherry claims the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, he’ll definitely have earned it. As the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” gets bigger every year, the pressure on the daily leaders seemingly increases exponentially, as do the demands on the leader’s time.

“We need to do this in a hurry because I’ve got battery problems,” said Cherry, as media members gathered around him for post-weigh-in comments Saturday. “I’ve got to get my batteries fixed. It’s going to be a late night, and we lose an hour (due to the switch to Daylight Savings Time).”

Cherry looked bone-tired. And he’s got some aching bones in his right arm as a result of a slip in his boat on Day 1. He hasn’t had time to see a doctor. But he’s talked to one on the phone. Advil and ice was the recommended treatment for now.

“At the end of the day, I truly believe I’m going to bring the trophy home,” said Cherry, who begins the day with a 4-pound, 13-ounce lead over second-place Brandon Lester.

The following is a look at where recent Bassmaster Classic champions have ranked in the standings over the three-day tournament:

YearDay 1Day 2Day 3
2019Tennessee RiverOtt DeFoe1st4th1st
2018Lake HartwellJordan Lee3rd6th1st
2017Lake ConroeJordan Lee37th15th1st
2016Grand LakeEdwin Evers13th3rd1st
2015Lake HartwellCasey Ashley6th5th1st
2014Lake GuntersvilleRandy Howell13th11th1st
2013Grand LakeCliff Pace1st (tie)1st1st
2012Red RiverChris Lane6th1st1st
2011Louisiana DeltaKevin VanDam3rd1st1st
2010Lay LakeKevin VanDam1st2nd1st
2009Red RiverSkeet Reese13th2nd1st
2008Lake HartwellAlton Jones10th1st1st