ROGERS, Ark., (Oct. 27, 1999) - Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., landed five bass weighing 13 pounds, 2 ounces, including the big bass of the day, which tipped the scales at 6 pounds, 4 ounces, during opening round action of the lucrative EverStart Challenge bass tournament on Beaver Lake to lead the Pro Division.
The event, which is the culmination of the second-year EverStart Batteries Series Central Division, features 150 professional and 150 co-anglers competing in a four-day elimination style tournament for $288,200 in cash and prizes.
Strader is competing for one of 10 slots available in the second round of competition that begins Friday. After round two, the field of pro anglers is cut to the top five competitors who will then advance to Saturday's final round for a shot at winning $20,000 cash, an Evinrude-powered Ranger bass boat, and priority entry into the 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour series. Co-angler competition concludes after Friday's second round action, with the winner receiving $10,000. The total purse in the Pro Division is $191,800 plus a Ranger boat, and the total purse in the Co-Angler Division is $66,400.
Delayne Castor of Verona, Mo., is leading the Co-Angler Division with five bass weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
The format for the EverStart Batteries Challenge is identical to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour series also run by Operation Bass, headquartered in Gilbertsville, Ky. During the first two days of competition, the full field of pro anglers and co-anglers compete for the heaviest two-day total weight, with the top 10 anglers from each division advancing to the second round on day three. Weight totals from the first round do not carry over to round two. At the conclusion of day three, the top five pros advance to the final round where the winner is determined by the total weight of that day's catch.
During the final round, each contestant is paired with an ESPN 2 camera crew. ESPN 2 is filming the EverStart Challenge as part of the Wal-Mart FLW Tour television series, which will air Dec. 19-20, 1999, at noon EST on ESPN 2.
The EverStart Series consists of eight regular season events - four in the Eastern and four in the Central Division - and two EverStart Challenge tournaments. The EverStart Challenge champion; winners from each of the EverStart Series regular season events; and the top 10 finishers from both divisions, based on pounds and points for the year, will receive priority entry into the 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour - featuring a record $4.4 million in cash and prizes.
Thursday's EverStart Challenge weigh-in begins at 3 p.m. at Prairie Creek Marina. The Friday and Saturday weigh-ins begin at 5 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. respectively at the Rogers, Ark., Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 2110 West Walnut. A Family Fun Zone featuring seminars from pro anglers, ESPN 2 television taping, Elliot Sandler's CITGO race car, and a children's trout pond will be open to the public beginning at noon on Saturday.
Sponsors of the EverStart Series include: EverStart Batteries, CITGO, Evinrude Outboards and Electrics, Ranger Boats, Black and Decker, Land O' Lakes, Chevy Trucks, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Coleman, Eveready Flashlights, Mitchell Rods and Reels, Spiderwire, Uniroyal, US Bank VISA, Wrangler, Wheaties, Chex Mix, and Hamburger Helper.