MANNING, S.C.–April 18, 1998–Roger Crafton of Boca Grande, Florida,
took first place in the second Eastern Division event of Operation Bass’ new EverStart Series, with a five-bass catch weighing 20 pounds, 10 ounces, to capture the $35,000 first prize in the event concluded Saturday on Santee Cooper Reservoir.
Crafton survived two earlier elimination rounds and 150 anglers enroute to the EverStart victory, edging out nine other finalists competing in Saturday’s final round of the professional division.
Ken Ellis of Bowman, South Carolina, took the runner-up spot with a championship round tally of five bass, weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces, good for $10,000.
Rounding out the top 10 in the professional division in the second event of the EverStart Series’ Eastern Division were: (3) David Goshorn, Bonneau, South Carolina, 19 pounds, 5 ounces, $9,000; (4) Frank Poirier, Hopewell, Virginia, 18 pounds, 2 ounces, $8,000; (5) David Walker, Cannon, Kentucky, 14 pounds, 3 ounces, $7,000; (6) Mike Gough, Gainesville, Florida, 12 pounds, 4 ounces, $6,000; (7) Frank Ippoliti, Mount Airy, Maryland, 9 pounds, 11 ounces, $5,000; (8) Jim Taylor, Orange Park, Florida, 5 pounds, 15 ounces, $4,500; (9) Bobby Wilson, Alcolu, South Carolina, 5 pounds, 5 ounces, $4,000; (10) Sandy Melvin, Boca Grande, Florida, 0 pounds, 0 ounces, $3,500.
The winner of the amateur division was Mike Hicks of Richmond, Virginia, who landed five bass weighing 14 pounds, 0 ounces, for the win. Hicks collected $5,000 for his amateur division victory.
Rounding out the top 10 in the amateur division were: (2) Jason Winn, Radcliff, Kentucky, 10 pounds, 13 ounces, $2,000; (3) Troy Pickett, Roberta, Georgia, 10 pounds, 3 ounces, $1,500; (4) Tracy Schiff, McConnell, South Carolina, 8 pounds, 3 ounces, $1,250; (5) Walter Kinney, Fayetteville,
North Carolina, 6 pounds, 5 ounces, $1,000; (6) Micah Bennett, Summerville, South Carolina, 4 pounds, $700; (7) Michael Cantrell, Philadelphia, Tennessee, 3 pounds, 9 ounces, $650; (8) Edgar Lewis, Jr., Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 0 pounds, $600; (9) Brantley Peoples, Raleigh, North Carolina, 0 pounds, $550; (10) Tracy Douglas, Laurens, South Carolina, 0 pounds, $500.
The win gives Crafton and Hicks priority entry into the lucrative Wal-Mart FLW Tour professional bass tournaments in 1999.
The total purse for the Santee Cooper tournament was $138,775 including a fully-rigged Ranger bass boat.
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 150-man pro and amateur fields will be cut
to the top 10 after two days. Amateur competition is ended at the conclusion of day three, with only the top five pros left to compete on the final day. Each of the EverStart Challenge events will be filmed for a future television segment that will air on ESPN 2 .