<
>

Skeet Stays Strong

8/10/2007

MARBURY, MD — It may finally be payback time for "Mr. Second Place." Skeet Reese remained atop the leaderboard on Day Two of the Capitol Clash presented by Advance Auto Parts and expanded a three-ounce Thursday lead to 2 pounds, 5 ounces on Friday.

"I've pulled some rabbits out of my hat this year," said Reese. "When it's your time, it's your time."

If this truly is the Auburn, Calif., angler's time, it is well-deserved. Consider what has happened to the steadiest angler on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour over the last 362 days:

1) At this tournament on the Potomac River a year ago — August 13th, to be exact — Kelly Jordon edged Reese by 7 ounces for the victory. The difference between first and second place was $70,000.

2) At the Bassmaster Classic in February, Reese finished second to champion Boyd Duckett by 6 ounces. The difference was $455,000.

3) Reese has finished second in two other Elite Series tournaments in the last five months, but the margins weren't nearly as close as the previous two.

By catching a 20-pound, 5-ounce, five-bass limit Thursday, Reese took Day One big bag honors and the $1,000 that goes with it. That check made him the 20th angler to pass the million-dollar mark on the Bassmaster tour.

But if not for seven ounces on the Potomac last year and 6 ounces at the Classic, Reese would be $525,000 richer and past the halfway point of his second million by now.

There's still time for the rug to get jerked out from under Reese again. On a day when there were wild swings up and down the leaderboard, Reese's old Potomac nemesis, Kelly Jordon, moved from fourth place to second.

"I'd love nothing more than to do that again," said Jordon with a laugh. "I'd love to be the guy with my hand on the end of that rug."

However, there's little Jordon can do about Reese's steady march to the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year title and the $125,000 check that goes with it. Kevin VanDam, who started this tournament only 20 points behind Reese, remained in 33rd place Friday, exactly where he was Thursday.

By being the tournament leader two days in a row, Reese has assured himself of 10 bonus points in this event. If VanDam doesn't make up any ground Saturday, when the top 50 after Day Two try to make the top 12 for Sunday's finale, Reese could have an almost-insurmountable 150-point lead going into the 2007 closing tournament at Florida's Lake Toho in September.

Reese, who has finished second seven times on the Bassmaster tour and hasn't won since January 2003, of course, wanted to hear none of that.

"Kevin's one guy you definitely don't want to piss off," said Reese of the three-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year. "I try to be as nice to him as I can.

"But it's not over until it's over. I'll be wound up tight, on pins and needles going into Toho."

And VanDam still has at least one more day to move up the leaderboard. After catching a 12-2 limit Thursday, VanDam had a limit weighing 11-12 Friday, leaving him 11-5 behind Reese.

"I've got to have a phenomenal day (Saturday) to get back in there," said VanDam.

His goal isn't necessarily to challenge Reese for the win, but to move up high enough in the standings that the point swing won't be so dramatic. Reese has been on the other end of that. When VanDam won at Grand Lake and Reese finished 67th in June, VanDam made a 175-point swing and replaced Reese as the AOY leader.

And if there's anything that has been proven in the first two days of this Potomac River tournament, it's that anything is possible:

• Brian Snowden made the most dramatic leap of the tournament, coming from nowhere — 99th place in the 107-angler field Thursday (4-13) — to 38th place Friday with an 18-4 bag that included a 7-13 largemouth.

• Two other anglers tied Snowden for Friday's big bag of 18-4. Kurt Dove jumped from 61st-place to 12th (28-5) and Matt Reed zoomed from 64th to 13th (28-3).

• At the opposite end of the spectrum, Gary Klein fell from second place (20-2) to 14th (28-1 overall) when he weighed only four fish that totaled 7-15. Those four bass weighed less than one fish, an 8-2 largemouth, he caught Thursday.

• James Niggemeyer proved Klein's lunker was no fluke, matching it with an 8-2 of his own Friday. It helped him move from 40th place Thursday to sixth place Friday (29-11).

When there are seven- and eight-pounders to be caught and less than four pounds separating the top five, no scenario is unimaginable in the final two days on the Potomac. Going into Saturday, Britt Myers is third (31-11), Derek Remitz is fourth (31-9) and Tommy Biffle is fifth (31-5).

Saturday's weigh-in at Smallwood State Park begins at 3 p.m.

Editor's note: Check in daily during the tournament for live video of the weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard at 3 p.m. ET Thursday through Saturday. ESPNOutdoors.com will air Hooked Up, the live Internet show, on Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon ET. The full Hooked Up show begins at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into the final live weigh-in and a realtime leaderboard at 3:45 p.m. ET.

Please feel free to post comments to this story via the ESPN Conversation feature at the bottom of this and every news page on this site.