There have been some dramatic championship final weigh-ins in our sport. The one that took place yesterday at the Lake Murray Forrest Wood Cup is right up there with them.
Steve Kennedy’s 20-pound bag, Casey Ashley taking the lead on a tiebreaker, Scott Canterbury’s lost 5-pounder that cost him the win, Brent Ehrler and Bryan Thrift both not closing it out – and all of that still pales in comparison to Anthony Gagliardi’s 1-ounce, story-book win.
By now, you know the story. He was disqualified from the season opener on Lake Okeechobee, only to put together a near record-setting season to earn the second-to-last place in the Cup at Lake Murray – his home lake. Throughout the tough tournament he was the picture of consistency, and in the end, it paid off by one very important (and profitable) ounce.
There are plenty more recaps, photos and videos out there, and we invite you to view them all, because this is one tournament to remember. However, we want to look at how Gagliardi’s win affected his ranking.
As we wrote a couple weeks ago, Gags was already having arguably his best season. He’d risen from 86th to 56th prior to the Cup. Now? He’s all the way up to 38th, and even that doesn’t tell the whole story. His win made him the No. 1-ranked angler in the last year, and it’s not even close. His 860.653 average is more than 40 points ahead of second place (Jacob Wheeler, 816.823). And the guys in third and fourth were the same two guys who had the last two shots to beat him at Murray, Ehrler and Thrift.
Describing things as “story-book” is over used, but in this case, it really applies for Gagliardi.
So what about the rest of the anglers in the top 10? Canterbury’s heart-breaking runner-up finish still netted him a nine-spot rise to 31st. Ashley also jumped nine spots to 21st, while Kennedy rose to 77th. Matt Herren cracked the top 50 (49th), Michael Wooley doesn’t have enough tournaments to make the Majors Two-Year Ranking, and the rest were already in the top 20.
Of course, not everybody moved up in the rankings after the Cup. Michael Neal’s first trip to the Cup dropped him from eighth to 19th, while Spencer Shuffield fell from 23rd to 39th.
But in the end, all everyone will remember is one of the greatest endings in championship history.