ROGERS, Ark., (Oct. 29, 1999) - After three days of competition in the EverStart Batteries Challenge bass tournament on Beaver Lake, all but five of the 150 Pro Division anglers have been eliminated. The five anglers will advance to tomorrow's final round, where the heaviest one-day catch determines who wins the first place award of $20,000 cash, an Evinrude-powered Ranger bass boat, and priority entry into the 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour - professional fishing's most lucrative series.
"It's about as tough as it gets out there," says Jack Graham of Hindsville, Ark., who finished with today's best catch of four fish weighing 9 pounds, 13 ounces. "Today, I didn't have a fish until 11 a.m. I need to find the early bite tomorrow."
Also advancing to the final round in the Pro Division are Curt Lytle of Suffolk, Va., with 8 pounds, 8 ounces; Preston Havens of Mountain Home, Ark., with 8 pounds, 5 ounces; Keith Smith of Crystal Springs, Miss., with 7 pounds, 10 ounces; and David Cooke of Davidson, N.C., with 7 pounds, 6 ounces.
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.
Co-angler competition ended today with Frank Divis Sr. of Fayetteville, Ark., taking top honors and $10,000 cash with only two fish weighing 2 pounds, 14 ounces. Three other Arkansas anglers also finished in the top five.
"It was a tough day today," Divis says. "I was fortunate to get the bites I had."
In 1999, the EverStart Series awarded anglers $1.7 million in cash and prizes. The series also provides a pathway for top bass anglers to the
prestigious $4.4 million, seven-event Wal-Mart FLW Tour professional bass fishing series. The EverStart Challenge champion, winners from each of the EverStart Series regular season events, and the top 10 finishers from the Series' East and Central Divisions receive priority entry.
Tomorrow's final round weigh-in begins at 3:30 p.m. 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.
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.