ROGERS, Ark., (Oct. 28, 1999) - The field for the lucrative EverStart Batteries Challenge on Beaver Lake has been narrowed to the top 10 pro and co-anglers for the second round of competition, with five of the top spots in the Pro Division going to Arkansas anglers. Rickey Clunn of Ava, Mo., leads the Pro Division with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 21 pounds, 3 ounces, and Mark King of Booneville, Ark., leads the Co-Angler Division with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 12 pounds, 2 ounces.
Weights from the first round of competition, however, do not carry over to subsequent rounds, so anglers in both divisions will once again be on a level playing field, with the pros vying for a five-fish stringer that will propel them into Saturday's final. Only the top five pro competitors, based the weight of tomorrow's catch, advance to the 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.
"I've been catching nine or 10 keepers each day trying to get a good limit," Clunn says. "I hope to do the same thing tomorrow. I figure it will take 8 pounds to make the top five, so that's my goal."
Co-angler competition ends after tomorrow's round, with the angler holding the heaviest one-day, five-fish catch receiving $10,000 cash.
The EverStart Challenge, which is the culmination of the second-year EverStart Batteries Series Central Division, features some of the nation's top professional anglers competing in a four-day elimination style tournament. The format for the 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 150 pro-anglers and 150 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.
Friday's EverStart Challenge weigh-in begins at 5 p.m. at the Rogers, Ark., Wal-Mart Supercenter located at 2110 West Walnut. Saturday's final weigh-in and ESPN 2 television taping begins at 3:30 p.m. A Family Fun Zone featuring seminars from pro anglers, ESPN 2 television taping, fishing exhibits, 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.