There've been a few 'junky' Classics the past several years – championships where most in the field wound up running and changing and fishing for whatever the lake would give them. But today's conclusion of the Hartwell Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, S.C. was old-school in every way – a throwback to the days when a single pattern could dominate a Classic.

Yes, several patterns worked to varying degrees each day, but there was only one that held up across all 3 days of weather changes. Two competitors of note found it – the 11-time Classic qualifier Alton Jones, and the Classic sophomore Cliff Pace.

But it was 44-year-old Jones from Waco, Texas who rode the pattern the hardest.

He opened with 17-05 and followed up with 18-11. Pace opened with 18-10, but stumbled on day 2 with 14-11.

Jones clinched with his 13-07, day-3 limit. And with his 3-day, 49-07 total, he won by a 5-02 margin.

He'd found the winning pattern – fishing ditches along the inside bends of tree lines – in practice with a spoon, but it wasn't until the final practice day the following week that he was able to refine it with a football-head jig.

And when others in the field watched their dreams slip away as the volatile Hartwell fish threw their baits or tangled in the trees, Jones fished carefully, quietly, and almost flawlessly en route to his first-ever Classic title.

He said yesterday that he'd waited his whole career to be on such a strong pattern in a Bassmaster Classic, and the pattern had everything he needed – a concentration of fish that could last 3 days, plus a depth where the fish would be unaffected by the massive weather changes and hordes of spectator-boat traffic.

It was an old-school display – 'Classic' in every way.

Pace made it close though – so close that Jones didn't think he had a chance to win until long after he checked in.

Pace worked the same pattern as Jones, except he did it with a dropshot instead of a jig, but day 2 (when the weather turned warm, sunny and still and he weighed 14-11) was his ultimate undoing.

Charlie Hartley, who led day 1 and trailed Jones after day 2, caught just two fish today and slipped to finish 15th.

Kevin VanDam weighed an 11-07 limit today and improved one spot to finish 3rd.

Bobby Lane's 12-10 limit moved him up four spots and he finished 4th.

Greg Hackney turned in his best Classic finish so far. He caught 10-12 today and climbed two spots to finish 3rd.

Jones Humbled

> Day 1: 5, 17-05
> Day 2: 5, 18-11
> Day 3: 5, 13-07 (15, 49-07)

Jones said he knew today "would be a grind." He only caught five fish – he never hooked up with his other bites – and he didn't fill his limit until 2:00.

He spent the final hour running all over, desperately looking for an upgrade fish. Turns out he didn't need it.

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Photo: ESPN Outdoors

Jones didn't catch his limit until 2:00 today, then spent the final hour in a hectic, but fruitless, quest to upgrade.

Immediately after his win, he said: "I don't know how I feel right now. I always thought it would be fun to win, but I never dreamed it would be this much fun. Probably the most prevalent thing I feel is that it's a little overwhelming, and I feel humility.

"When I look at the names on the banners around the rafters, I don't feel worthy to be the owner of a trophy like those guys. They're my heroes, and I feel humbled to be there with them."

He also said that he had to constantly remind himself of several things while on the water today to combat the tugs of pressure when the bites didn't come as fast as he'd hoped. He tried to concentrate on catching the next bass, rather than the major goal of a limit. He also tried to focus on every cast, and not think about the spectator boats. Lastly, he reminded himself to concentrate on the basics of the technique he was using.

About what the title means to him, he said: "It means a lot, but there's a lot of responsibility that I think comes with this title. I'm really honored to have somewhat of a chance to be a spokesman for the industry and the sport of bass fishing, and I want to do everything in my power to help everyone out, and tell America what a great sport we have.

"Faith plays a role in every part of my life," he added. "Fishing's important, but it's not the foundation of my life. My faith in Christ is the underpinning of my life, and I hope this gives me a chance to tell more people about Jesus."

With a Classic title out of the way, he said his primary career goal now is to win an Angler of the Year title, and he hopes to carry the momentum of this victory into the season opener in a few weeks at the Harris Chain in Florida.

As noted, he fished ditches (creek channels) with steep edges along the inside turns of treelines. The best ditches, he said, were often no wider than 10 feet, and he wouldn't have been able to find them without his Humminbird 1197 Side Imaging sonar unit. Once he uncovered the pattern, he was able to maximize his practice time searching for other like structure around the massive lake.

He used a Cotton Cordell CC spoon in the mornings, but culled most or all of those fish later with two jigs.

Both jigs were prototypes and will be available soon from Booyah. One's called a Pigskin, jig, the other's called AJ's Go2 jig. He tipped both with a Yum Chunk.

The full details of his winning pattern, plus pattern information for the other top finishers, will be posted soon.

2nd: Pace Fine With Finish

> Day 1: 5, 18-10
> Day 2: 5, 14-11
> Day 3: 5, 11-00 (15, 44-05)

"First is definitely better than 2nd, but 2nd is better than 3rd," Pace said. "I fished as good a tournament as I could, and Alton beat me anyway. It was his tournament.

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Cliff Pace said he never had the bites to beat Jones.

"I never had the bites to beat him," he added. "I was fishing the exact same pattern as him – the inside edge of the timber – but in a different way. I was fishing a little more finesse like dropshots and stuff when the fish were down. But I was catching quite a few that would come up and chase bait."

He described his second Classic experience as "exciting, and finished 2nd just makes it that much better."

3rd: VanDam Upset

> Day 1: 5, 20-03
> Day 2: 5, 11-14
> Day 3: 5, 11-07 (15, 43-08)

There's absolutely zero doubt about it, Kevin VanDam felt like this was his tournament to win. He was his usual calm self when fielding questions from the media after the weigh-in, but his words revealed just how disappointed he's feeling inside.

"To be honest with you, I really have to watch what I say to you right now," he said. "I'm disappointed, no doubt.

"This is the best practice I've ever had for a Classic. Coming into this one I really thought I had a good chance, and I guess I did. But Alton was in control on the final day."

He praised Hartwell for its diversity and complexity. "What makes Hartwell so different is the forage. Everybody talks about the herring, but the shad are a key in this lake, too. No matter what style you fish – you can do it on Hartwell. It's a fantastic lake and it was fun to learn."

4th: 'Great Start' for Lane

> Day 1: 5, 15-00
> Day 2: 5, 14-13
> Day 3: 5, 12-10 (15, 42-07)

This was Bobby Lane's first Classic. This year is also his first run in the Elite Series. All in all, he's pleased with his inaugural showing in BASS' big leagues.

"I wanted to win, don't get me wrong," he said. "But being a rookie and with this being my first classic - to be in the Top 10, I feel pretty good about that. Just to be here and experienced this is the thrill of a lifetime."

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Kevin VanDam was disgusted that he couldn't secure a win after having what he said was his best Classic practice ever.

He's got no regrets when it comes to the way he fished this week. He spent most of his time cranking in the 5- to 10-foot range, and would occasionally make a foray out deep. But his limit fish came on the shallow bite.

A dead fish cost him today, but now that it's all said and done, it wouldn't have made a difference anyway.

5th: Hackney Happy

> Day 1: 5, 16-02
> Day 2: 5, 14-09
> Day 3: 5, 10-12 (15, 41-07)

About his 3 days, Hackney said: "I fished really well, honestly. I have no real complaints. This was the only Classic where I can honestly say that.

"I moved real well, and didn't make any mistakes. Maybe I should have experimented more today when it slicked off, but I kept going to my places and rotating through trying to get bites."

6th: Kriet Feels Good

> Day 1: 5, 12-15
> Day 2: 5, 18-12
> Day 3: 3, 9-04 (13, 40-15)

Despite a missed chance to move up significantly today, Jeff Kriet overall is happy about his fishing.

"It's a weird deal," he said. "I feel really good to finish in the Top 10 in the Classic, no doubt about it. But I think I feel good until I look at the weights. I lost a 4-pounder today, another about 2 1/2 the first day, and I lost one 6 1/2 or 7 yesterday.

"The weird deal is I don't feel like I fished that bad, so I'm happy."

7th: Kiriyama Dumped Two

> Day 1: 5, 16-11
> Day 2: 5, 12-00
> Day 3: 5, 11-14 (15, 40-09)

Kota Kiriyama caught more fish today than he did yesterday – about 10 keepers – but they were smaller. The bad news was two lost fish.

"I lost two 4-pounders – I screamed. One was in a tree, one was shallow. But I'm here, the Classic, so I'm happy. I'm not real disappointed. I did my best."

8th: No Regrets for Reehm

> Day 1: 5, 13-00
> Day 2: 5, 12-08
> Day 3: 5, 15-00 (15, 40-08)

Overall the rookies faired well in this year's Classic. Clark Reehm had a solid week and said for the most part he accomplished the goals he set coming in.

"Of course you always want to win, but coming in I really wanted to do three things," he said. "I wanted to catch a limit, I wanted to make the final day cut, and I wanted to break into the Top 10. As a rookie I think that's a good way start off.

He was another one of the pros who put together a shallow bite with a crankbait. He caught a few fish flipping.

9th: Martens Sick

> Day 1: 5, 12-15
> Day 2: 5, 15-14
> Day 3: 5, 11-10 (15, 40-07)

Aaron Martens struggled all day with flu-like symptoms – he was shaking while putting tackle away – and he said it was difficult to fight through it today. "I shivered for like 3 hours straight."

About his finish, he said: "I feel like my fishing was good, but I think I spread my prefish out way too far, not knowing that on the first day of practice I was in the best area of the lake – only 4 or 5 miles from the launch.

"I did well. I caught everything I could have caught. I ran a lot of quality spots for the big ones. But I was fishing a runway. With everybody going by me, maybe the big fish didn't bite as well."

11th: Edwin Evers

> Day 1: 5, 18-07
> Day 2: 5, 11-02
> Day 3: 5, 10-00 (15, 39-09)

Edwin Evers has been tight-lipped about his pattern all week. He spilled a little more about it today.

"I was fishing really deep," he said. "Now that it's over I can see that's where I messed up. The strongest bite seemed to be the mid-depth stuff. A lot of guys were catching them shallow, but the guys that were catching them big seemed like they were somewhere in between.

"I fished as good as I know how," he added. "I just wasn't on the winning group of fish this week. Congratulations to the winner."

12th: Reese Relied on Sun

> Day 1: 3, 11-05
> Day 2: 5, 17-02
> Day 3: 5, 10-09 (13, 39-00)

Skeet Reese's daily weight totals tell his entire story. If he could've sandwiched his day 2 weight with the same kind of poundage on days 1 and 3, he'd have come out on top. But his big-fish bite was completely dependent on the sun.

"I need sun to position fish on the cover," he said. "If that doesn't happen, I don't catch 'em."

He said he missed three decent fish today, but "nothing that would've made a difference."

He threw two baits all week. One was a hand-tied brown mop jig, the other was a Berkley PowerBait Hollow Belly swimbait on a 1/4-ounce jighead.

13th: Rook Disappointed

> Day 1: 5, 20-13
> Day 2: 5, 7-12
> Day 3: 5, 10-04 (15, 38-13)

Scott Rook was on a rock-solid pattern, he said, and after day 1 looked like a threat to win the whole thing. But things quickly went downhill and his crankbait pattern died.

"Sometimes you just have to make an adjustment, but I just couldn't find them," he said. "It was like all the big fish were replaced by small fish. Everywhere I went it was the same.

"I came here to win," he added. "That's what I want to do. If I make the Top 10, it's a good finish, yeah, but for the Classic, I want to win. I finished 2nd in 2001, so I've been close. I know what close feels like, but I want to win."

14th: Wolak's 'Stroke'

> Day 1: 5, 13-12
> Day 2: 5, 9-14
> Day 3: 5, 14-12 (15, 38-06)

Dave Wolak caught his best sack of the tournament today with what he said was a "stroke of good luck."

"I stumbled on a little bite going on and caught them on a swimbait," he noted. "I was flipping and pitching all week in a creek. That cold rain made it real tough. Then I figured out how to catch them on deeper tree lines.

"Today I was doing terrible and said, 'The heck with this.' I threw a little swimbait around – a Yum Samurai Shad, which is a redfish bait – and caught two 5s. I was rigging it on an aspirin-head and reeling it just under the surface."

15th: Hartley Happy

> Day 1: 5, 21-01
> Day 2: 5, 13-12
> day 3: 2, 3-05 (12, 38-02)

Despite a 13-place drop today, Charlie Hartley's still stoked about his entire experience the past week.

"This was the most exciting week of my life," he said. "It wasn't the outcome I wanted, but I'm not going to complain. How incredible to be leading the tournament the first day, then have a shot at winning the last day – that's all you can ask for.

"I missed some fish today," he added. "I can't tell you how good they were, but I should have weighed five. I'm tickled to death. Charlie doesn't get this kind of exposure or media attention very often. I'm disappointed with a decision I made today, but I'm sure not disappointed with this week."

16th: Crews Okay With It

> Day 1: 5, 11-02
> Day 2: 5, 14-11
> Day 3: 5, 11-15 (15, 37-12)

John Crews was fairly steady in his catches with three limits all in the low teens, but the big fish eluded him all week.

Today started slow for him, but he ended up having a "decent" afternoon, which delivered a 4-pounder and one other quality fish.

"I kind of had to junk around a little bit today is the best way to put it," he said. "I was trying a bunch of different patterns and ended up catching four out on a point. Then I caught the big one and a couple others on a Spro Little John crank."

About his finish, he said: "I feel okay. I just didn't get enough big bites. I think the area I was in has big fish in it. But some of the stuff I was doing last week (for big fish) wasn't working at all for these 3 days."

17th: Not Bad for Ashley

> Day 1: 5, 18-10
> Day 2: 2, 5-12
> Day 3: 5, 11-06 (12, 35-12)

Casey Ashley said he felt like he was on the fish that could've won it, and his day 1 sack lends some credence to that. His bite tapered off the last days, but in the end, the local favorite thought he fished well.

"I wouldn't change anything about what I did," he said. "I had plenty of big fish in the areas I fished. They just didn't bite for me today. They were extra spooky today.

"It wasn't that bad, I guess. I just wish I could've repeated my first day."

18th: Scroggins Satisfied

> Day 1: 5, 19-03
> Day 2: 3, 4-07
> Day 3: 5, 10-05 (13, 33-15)

Terry Scroggins was never a favorite to find the big ones on Hartwell. The clear water and relative shortage of solid flipping cover doesn't suit his style, which is why it was a little surprising to see him in the Top 5 on day 1.

In the end, his deep bite didn't prevail. But he said considering the practice he had, he feels good about the overall outcome.

"My practice was pretty bad. I'm pretty disappointed about not catching a limit yesterday. But that's really my only regret. I wasn't expecting to perform well coming in. I'm ready to go to Florida."

19th: Biffle Came Up Short

> Day 1: 5, 10-06
> Day 2: 5, 13-02
> Day 3: 5, 10-01 (15, 33-09)

Tommy Biffle's finish didn't live up to his pre-tournament expectations.

"I thought I would do real good, but the cold and the rain changed things," he said. "I was getting a lot of bites in practice and I thought I could catch 15 to 18 pounds a day, and 18 to 20 on a good day. But almost all of that went away.

"I thought my performance was fine, but my spots weren't the best."

20th: Linter Caught 'Little Ones'

> Day 1: 5, 13-02
> Day 2: 5, 14-08
> Day 3: 3, 5-06 (13, 33-00)

Jared Lintner was on one of the shallowest patterns of the Classic. He elected to flip to targets in less than 2 feet of water in the back of creeks, a pattern that sizzled and fizzled with the presence of the sun.

"The water in my creeks was 4 degrees colder today," he said. "I was excited about today. I caught 25 fishing that pattern yesterday. It just wasn't my tournament to win this time, I guess."

And speaking of winning tournaments, that's his one and only goal for 2008.

"It's good to be consistent, but taking the next step for me is to win one this year. I think I've got a pretty good shot at it at Oneida or maybe down at Falcon."

21st: Swindle Stuck With Docks

> Day 1: 5, 9-12
> Day 2: 5, 14-02
> Day 3: 5 (15, 9-01)

Gerald Swindle said that Lake Hartwell presented the most diverse set of conditions he's ever seen in a Classic.

"Just look at the way guys are catching 'em," he said. "You got guys cranking shallow. You got guys jigging spoons. Some guys are catchin them on docks - I'm not included in that group, by the way.

"Note to self: you cannot catch them in Lake Hartwell on boat docks when it's cloudy.

"That's what got me this week," he added. "I don't know how to catch 'em here when the sun isn't shining."

22nd: Short Glad

> Day 1: 5, 12-08
> Day 2: 2, 12-02
> Day 3: 5, 8-00 (12, 32-10)

Kevin Short was short and sweet when asked about his first Classic experience.

"I'm damn glad to be here," he said. "I'm glad to make it to the last day - that's always a good thing."

If he had to do it again he said he'd concentrate more on suspended fish instead of the bottom-biters he's been targeting on channel bends.

23rd: Chapman Mixed

> Day 1: 5, 13-06
> Day 2: 5, 10-03
> Day 3: 5, 8-12 (15, 32-05)

Chapman boxed five small fish today and said things were "pretty slow." Two of his fish were on a spoon, a couple more were on a crank, and he caught one on a jig.

About his finish, he said: "It's hard to be too excited when you're not there at the top. It's the Classic, and it's always good to fish the third day, but the Classic's the Classic.

"What I'm disappointed with is Alton and I worked together, and here he won. I didn't adjust with the fish like he did. But I feel like I'm not rusty now, and I'm ready to go into the season."

24th: Klein not disappointed

> Day 1: 5, 13-12
> Day 2: 5, 11-03
> day 3: 3, 6-14 (13, 31-13)

Gary Klein finished his 26th Classic with three fish. He didn't try anything crazy. He stuck with his deep, offshore bite.

"I think the fish were there, I just missed the bite – the right presentation," he said.

About his finish, he noted: "What can you say? I'm not disappointed, because of the fact that it was a good week. I had an opportunity to compete – I made the cut – but I had to struggle the whole time I was here. I never felt good going into it.

"It's in the books. Now I'll focus on the new year and the Classic next year. Right now my mind's already shifted toward the Harris Chain."

25th: Faircloth Ran Out of Fish

> Day 1: 5, 17-10
> Day 2: 3, 8-15
> Day 3: 1, 0-15 (9, 27-08)

Todd Faircloth lost quality and quantity as the tournament progressed.

"I thought my spots would replenish with some pre-spawners wanting to come up, but they never did," he said. "I don't know if it was the pressure or the sun, but it didn't happen."

He was low-key and noticeably downtrodden talking to the press today, but he tried to stay upbeat.

"You never know if a spot is going to replenish until you fish the tournament," he said. "I had no way of knowing whether or not those fish would move in. I found a good pattern. It just wasn't as reliable as I thought it was."


> Day 3 stats – 25 anglers, 19 limits, 1 four, 3 threes, 1 two, 1 one.

> BASS reported that overall attendance for the 3 days (Outdoor Expo and weigh-ins combined) was 74,008. The final-day weigh-in at the Bi-Lo Center was a sellout (13,003). Sunday's attendance at the Outdoor Expo was 12,982.

> The 2008 BASS Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to journalist Tim Tucker, who died in an auto accident last summer. His widow, Darlene, and children Rachel and Kyle accepted the award from BASS founder Ray Scott.

Final Standings

1. Alton Jones -- Waco, Texas -- 15, 49-07 -- 0 -- $500,000
Day 1: 5, 17-05 -- Day 2: 5, 18-11 -- Day 3: 5, 13-07

2. Cliff Pace -- Petal, Miss. -- 15, 44-05 -- 0 -- $45,000
Day 1: 5, 18-10 -- Day 2: 5, 14-11 -- Day 3: 5, 11-00

3. Kevin VanDam -- Kalamazoo, Mich. -- 15, 43-08 -- 0 -- $40,000
Day 1: 5, 20-03 -- Day 2: 5, 11-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-07

4. Bobby Lane -- Lakeland, Fla. -- 15, 42-07 -- 0 -- $30,000
Day 1: 5, 15-00 -- Day 2: 5, 14-13 -- Day 3: 5, 12-10

5. Greg Hackney -- Gonzales, La. -- 15, 41-07 -- 0 -- $25,000
Day 1: 5, 16-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-09 -- Day 3: 5, 10-12

6. Jeff Kriet -- Ardmore, Okla. -- 13, 40-15 -- 0 -- $22,000
Day 1: 5, 12-15 -- Day 2: 5, 18-12 -- Day 3: 3, 9-04

7. Kotaro Kiriyama -- Moody, Ala. -- 15, 40-09 -- 0 -- $21,500
Day 1: 5, 16-11 -- Day 2: 5, 12-00 -- Day 3: 5, 11-14

8. Clark Reehm -- Russellville, Ark. -- 15, 40-08 -- 0 -- $22,000
Day 1: 5, 13-00 -- Day 2: 5, 12-08 -- Day 3: 5, 15-00

9. Aaron Martens -- Leeds, Ala. -- 15, 40-07 -- 0 -- $20,500
Day 1: 5, 12-15 -- Day 2: 5, 15-14 -- Day 3: 5, 11-10

10. Michael Iaconelli -- Runnemede, N.J. -- 14, 39-10 -- 0 -- $20,000
Day 1: 5, 18-05 -- Day 2: 5, 12-14 -- Day 3: 4, 8-07

11. Edwin Evers -- Talala, Okla. -- 15, 39-09 -- 0 -- $15,000
Day 1: 5, 18-07 -- Day 2: 5, 11-02 -- Day 3: 5, 10-00

12. Skeet Reese -- Auburn, Calif. -- 13, 39-00 -- 0 -- $14,500
Day 1: 3, 11-05 -- Day 2: 5, 17-02 -- Day 3: 5, 10-09

13. Scott Rook -- Little Rock, Ark. -- 15, 38-13 -- 0 -- $14,250
Day 1: 5, 20-13 -- Day 2: 5, 7-12 -- Day 3: 5, 10-04

14. Dave Wolak -- Wake Forest, N.C. -- 15, 38-06 -- 0 -- $14,000
Day 1: 5, 13-12 -- Day 2: 5, 9-14 -- Day 3: 5, 14-12

15. Charlie Hartley -- Grove City, Ohio -- 12, 38-02 -- 0 -- $13,750
Day 1: 5, 21-01 -- Day 2: 5, 13-12 -- Day 3: 2, 3-05

16. John Crews -- Salem, Va. -- 15, 37-12 -- 0 -- $13,000
Day 1: 5, 11-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-11 -- Day 3: 5, 11-15

17. Casey Ashley -- Donalds, S.C. -- 12, 35-12 -- 0 -- $12,900
Day 1: 5, 18-10 -- Day 2: 2, 5-12 -- Day 3: 5, 11-06

18. Terry Scroggins -- San Mateo, Fla. -- 13, 33-15 -- 0 -- $12,800
Day 1: 5, 19-03 -- Day 2: 3, 4-07 -- Day 3: 5, 10-05

19. Tommy Biffle -- Wagoner, Okla. -- 15, 33-09 -- 0 -- $12,700
Day 1: 5, 10-06 -- Day 2: 5, 13-02 -- Day 3: 5, 10-01

20. Jared Lintner -- Arroyo Grande, Calif. -- 13, 33-00 -- 0 -- $12,600
Day 1: 5, 13-02 -- Day 2: 5, 14-08 -- Day 3: 3, 5-06

21. Gerald Swindle -- Warrior, Ala. -- 15, 32-15 -- 0 -- $12,400
Day 1: 5, 9-12 -- Day 2: 5, 14-02 -- Day 3: 5, 9-01

22. Kevin F Short -- Mayflower, Ark. -- 15, 32-10 -- 0 -- $12,300
Day 1: 5, 12-08 -- Day 2: 5, 12-02 -- Day 3: 5, 8-00

23. Brent Chapman -- Lake Quivira, Kan. -- 15, 32-05 -- 0 -- $12,200
Day 1: 5, 13-06 -- Day 2: 5, 10-03 -- Day 3: 5, 8-12

24. Gary Klein -- Weatherford, Texas -- 13, 31-13 -- 0 -- $12,100
Day 1: 5, 13-12 -- Day 2: 5, 11-03 -- Day 3: 3, 6-14

25. Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, Texas -- 9, 27-08 -- 0 -- $13,000
Day 1: 5, 17-10 -- Day 2: 3, 8-15 -- Day 3: 1, 0-15

Big Bass

Day 3: Clark Reehm -- Jasper, Texas -- 5-06 -- $1,000
Day 2: Fred Roumbanis -- Bixby, Okla. -- 6-07 -- $1,000
Day 1: Todd Faircloth -- Jasper, Texas -- 6-02 -- $1,000