Hackney wins Angler of the Year, edges Namiki by eight points - Major League Fishing

Hackney wins Angler of the Year, edges Namiki by eight points

Quick Bites: Chevy Open, Day 4
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After a protracted battle between them this week in Charles County, Md., Toshinari Namiki congratulates Greg Hackney on winning Angler of the Year. Photo by Jeff Schroeder. Anglers: Greg Hackney, Toshinari Namiki.
June 25, 2005 • Jennifer Simmons • Archives

Wal-Mart FLW Tour Chevy Open Potomac River, La Plata, Md. Final round, Saturday Hack Attack takes the title … Though Toshinari Namiki put up a valiant challenge, it was Greg Hackney who took home the 2005 Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year trophy in triumphant fashion. As the confetti flew and the tears fell, Hackney said with choked-up emotion, “I said a little prayer before the tournament started that regardless of what I had to go through to get this, I wanted it.” Hackney’s prayers were answered in full – he got it all right, but he sure did have to go through a little sweat to get it. First to fall was J.T. Kenney, who entered the tournament ranked No. 1, and then it was Anthony Gagliardi, who, at No. 2, was the only person left ahead of Hackney. But it wasn’t yet done – only seven points behind Hackney was No. 4 Toshinari Namiki, who busted a big bag on day two to enter the final rounds. Luckily for Hackney, he was right up there too, and on day three, Namiki actually out-fished the Hack Attack, but it was too little, too late. The confetti flies and Greg Hackney erupts when he realizes he won 2005 Land O'Lakes Angler of the Year.After way too many second-place finishes – including runner-up rankings on both the FLW Tour and Bassmaster Tour in 2004 – it was finally Hackney’s time to shine. He brought in 16 pounds, 15 ounces today to finish fourth, and when he took the stage for angler introductions, the audience knew he had it won. He could barely contain his enthusiasm, whooping and hollering and giving winner Mike Iaconelli a run for his money as to who made the most noise. Exciting as it was for Hackney, it was also bittersweet. “I said to the Lord, ‘Just this one time, I want to finish the deal,’” he said. “I accomplished my goal. I’ve wanted this for about five years.” Indeed, five years ago, Hackney began his bass-fishing career, and all along it’s been his ambition to end the season No. 1. “It’s a goal of mine every year,” he said. “I guess it could just be to win tournaments, but I just wanted it so bad. Last year I was really disappointed (to finish second).” … Making it all the more special was that as recently as March, one media outlet dubbed him the “Slack Attack” after Hackney appeared to have failed to follow up on his remarkable 2004 season. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Hackney entered the Ouachita River event ranked 32nd and continued to climb. The journey came to a peak this afternoon, when Hackney says he knew he had it made. “I actually knew about lunch,” he said. “I thought I had it won about 30 minutes before (time to leave), and then I caught another one and culled.” To thoroughly digest what he’s accomplished – he’s only the ninth angler to win an FLW Tour Angler of the Year title – Hackney says he’ll need a little time alone. “I am really going to enjoy going somewhere and sitting and thinking about it,” he said. “It’s awesome. This is like the Holy Grail.” Namiki gracious runner-up … Though there are anglers who’d rather finish anywhere but second, Angler of the Year runner-up Toshinari Namiki couldn’t be happier for Greg Hackney. In fact, count Namiki among the people rooting for the competition. “It was exciting today – a great opportunity,” Namiki said. “It is very great – I feel like I won Angler of the Year. I feel very good. I’m happy, excited today. I know Hackney is a great angler and personality too. I’m very glad that he won.” Namiki says he’s looking forward to this year’s championship, taking place next month on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas. This will be Namiki’s second career championship appearance. “I remember going to six tournaments and it ending,” he said. “I have one more tournament.” Newby sneaks in … Sam Newby had to finish sixth or better this week to earn a trip to the 2005 FLW Tour Championship, and in sixth place he finished, ending the year in the No. 48 position – the very last championship slot. He knocked out rookie William Davis, who earned the dreaded No. 49 ranking, but Davis nonetheless has much to be proud of – he earned a top-10 finish in his third career FLW Tour event, and he’s headed to the EverStart Series Championship. As for Newby, he’d miscalculated his odds and figured he would have to finish first or second to get to Hot Springs, so he’d pretty much thrown the very idea out the window and just went fishing. “I was just fishing for fish,” he said. “I came here to catch all the fish I could catch. I always catch fish good in June on a jig. I just blocked it out and didn’t even worry about it. (Forty-eighth) is the best place you can be in except first.” In four full seasons on tour, this is Newby’s second trip to the championship. He’ll be fishing for $500,000, and for that, he says, “I’m ready.” Who’s in, who’s out … The field is set for the 2005 FLW Tour Championship, and it’s interesting to note who made it – and who didn’t. Making the field were bubble-dwellers Steve Kennedy (No. 36), Todd Ary (No. 37) and Mark Rose (No. 32). David Walker entered the tournament in the 48th spot but slipped to 51st. Making a big leap up was Andy Morgan, who jumped from 71st to 42nd, but several made a big leap down. Scott Martin, last year’s championship runner-up, fell from 30th to 50th, out of the championship, and Mark Pack plunged 41 spots to end the year ranked 79th. Also not making the list are David Dudley, 2003 champion, and last year’s winner, Luke Clausen. Others who were not in the top 48 heading into this week's event but earned their way into the championship are Danny Correia (No. 35), Randy Blaukat (No. 40), Michael Bennett (No. 41), Dan Morehead (No. 46) and, of course, Sam Newby (No. 48). Brent Chapman of Lake Quivera, Kan., finished ninth with 22-0.In the family way … Brent Chapman finished ninth this week on the Potomac, and he’s headed back to Kansas as quick as he can get there to witness the birth of his second child, a girl. Earlier in the week, Chapman found himself leading the event, unsure of whether or not he’d make it back in time for the birth. His wife, Bobbi, on bed rest with high blood pressure, literally had to plead with her doctor to wait to induce labor, but she’s hanging in there, with the birth now scheduled for Tuesday. Incredibly, Chapman’s sister, Stacey, is also very pregnant with a birth scheduled for Monday. “As long as they don’t go into labor, they’ll induce my sister Monday and my wife Tuesday,” Chapman said. “My family’s going to have two little ones in a hurry.” Fidel Castrol? … If there is a bass angler out there who’s about as far from a terroristic mastermind as it gets, it’s sweet Carl Svebek. Nevertheless, it was Svebek who found himself face-to-face with military police while fishing the Potomac on day three. It seems Svebek – and two camera boats from Fox – were a little too close to some very important places. “I was fishing next to a military base, and the MPs came down and called our camera boats over,” Svebek said. “I had two camera boats on me at the time, and they made them erase their tapes.” Luckily for Svebek, the policemen were fishermen, and he said they were very courteous – and curious. “They watched me catch the 6-pound, 2-ouncer, and they even wanted to know how big it was,” he said. Svebek did not have to leave the honeyhole as long as the cameramen filmed away from – not toward – the facility. Quick numbers: 1,027: Number of points accumulated by Angler of the Year Greg Hackney in 2005. 1,019: Number of points earned by Toshinari Namiki. 16-15: Weight, in pounds and ounces, of the day’s heaviest stringer, brought in by none other than Greg Hackney. Iaconelli's daughters get a kick out of the winner's eagle woodcarving presented by Poulan.34-14: Pounds and ounces brought in by winner Michael Iaconelli over two days. 4-9: Iaconelli’s margin of victory, in pounds and ounces. 1: Number of points separating No. 48 pro Sam Newby and No. 49 William Davis. Sound bites: “We’d probably have to get a bigger house.” – Greg Hackney, on what would have to happen after he and his family buy up all the Corn Flakes boxes with his picture on it. “I’ve been fishing for 30 years, and any time we come to the Potomac River, I get excited.” – No. 7 pro George Cochran, on the fish factory that is the Potomac River. “I probably need about 10 more.” – Gary Yamamoto, after weighing in four bass that registered just over 4 pounds total. “This is the most exciting time in bass fishing. Dadgum, it just gets so much better every day.” – Veteran pro Jerry Williams, who took third place in the tournament, his highest finish since 1998. “I’m as happy as he is, and I’m in 48th.” – Sam Newby on Greg Hackney. This week’s event was hosted by the Charles County, Md., Office of Tourism.