HENDERSON, N.C., (September 11, 1999) Robert Walser of Lexington, North Carolina, took first place in the $283,200 EverStart Batteries Bass Challenge with a five bass catch weighing 22 pounds, 10 ounces, to capture the $45,000 first prize in the event concluded Saturday on Kerr Lake.
Walser survived two earlier elimination rounds and 147 anglers en route to the EverStart victory, edging out four other finalists competing in Saturday's final round of the professional division. He received $20,000 and an Evinrude-powered Ranger boat for the victory. The win also gives him priority entry into the $4.4 million, 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour, the most lucrative bass series in history.
Walser caught his winning limit using a Zoom crankbait and a Pradco Bomber in 9 feet of water on Kerr Lake's upper end. He had his limit by noon. "This is by far the biggest win of my career," said Walser of his impressive win. It's going to take awhile before it sinks in.
Jeff Coble of Henderson, North Carolina, took the runner-up spot with a championship round, five bass tally weighing 16 pounds, 8 ounces, good for $20,000.
Rounding out the top five in the professional division of the event that culminated the second year EverStart Series' Eastern Division were: (3) William Chapman, Salt Rock, West Virginia, 11-9, $18,000; (4) Wally Szuba, Cary, North Carolina, 10-5, $16,000; (5) David Cooke, Davidson, North Carolina, 9-10, $14,000.
The winner of the Co-Angler division competition concluded Friday was Tony Toombs of Drakes Branch, Virginia, who had a winning weight of 15 pounds, 2 ounces. Toombs collected $10,000 for his Co-Angler Division victory.
The EverStart Series consists of eight regular events, four in the Central and four in the Eastern Division, and two EverStart Challenge tournaments. The Challenge events, one per division, feature the same format as the Wal-Mart FLW Tour tournaments. The Pro and Co-Angler fields are cut to the top 10 after two days. Co-Angler competition is ended at the conclusion of day three, with only the top five pros left to compete on the final day.
The 2000 EverStart Series will include two divisions with four qualifying events per division culminating with the EverStart Championship. The tentative schedule for 2000 is as follows: Eastern Division - January 5-8, Okeechobee, Clewiston, FL; February 2-5, Martin Alexander City, AL; March 1-4 Santee Cooper Manning, SC; April 5-8 Cumberland Somerset, KY. Central Division - March 8-11, Sam Rayburn, Jasper, TX; March 29 - April 1, Beaver Lake, Rogers, AR; May 3-6, Texoma, Pottstown, TX; June 7-10, Mississippi River Greenville, MS. East/Central Invitational Challenge (top 75 from each division) November 8-11, Winter Haven Chain, Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, FL.
Each of the EverStart Challenge events is filmed for a future television segment that will air on ESPN 2. The Eastern Division event will air Sunday, December 12, 1999, at 1 p.m. EST on ESPN 2.
Sponsors of the EverStart Series include: EverStart Batteries, CITGO, Evinrude Outboards and Electrics, Ranger Boats, Ranger Trail Trailers, Black and Decker, Land O' Lakes, and Chevy Trucks, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Coleman, Eveready Flashlights, Mitchell, Spiderwire, Uniroyal, US Bank VISA, Wrangler, Wheaties, Chex Mix, and Hamburger Helper.