B.A.S.S. announced today that 112 anglers are registered for the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series, the largest field since the Elite Series began in 2006.
Participation has hovered around 100 each year since 2008, when 109 anglers competed.
“The demand for the Elite Series has been incredible,” said Bassmaster tournament director Trip Weldon. “Not only is this the largest field we’ve ever had, but it may be the strongest. It’s loaded with talented, world-class anglers.”
The announcement comes after months of back and forth between B.A.S.S. and some Elite Series pros who stood to miss out on their chance to return to the tour next year due to an exceptionally low attrition rate and record-level commitment rates from Open competitors. In the end, B.A.S.S. opted to not enforce its rule that would've forced those who finished between 91st and 100th in points to re-qualify through the Opens.
“It speaks volumes about the importance and impact of the Elite Series that 96 out of 100 Elite anglers wanted to return this year, and that 14 of the 15 Opens qualifiers have accepted invitations,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.
Mark Menendez and Byron Velvick will return to the Elite Series after using hardship exemptions to sit out 2013.
Elite Series vets Jason Quinn, Jami Fralick, Clark Reehm and Matt Greenblatt are not on the 2014 roster.
The 14-man rookie class may be the strongest ever, thanks to a slew of Open qualifiers who have strong FLW Tour résumés. The crop of newcomers is highlighted by reigning Forrest Wood Cup champion Randall Tharp as well as Jacob Powroznik, Brett Hite, Justin Lucas and Glenn Browne.
The 112-man field features 11 former Angler of the Year winners and 11 Bassmaster Classic champions. Two-thirds of the competitors have won a Bassmaster tournament at some level.
Following are the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers (italics denotes a newcomer to the Elite Series).
> Tracy Adams, Wilkesboro, N.C.
> Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C.
> Scott Ashmore, Broken Arrow, Okla.
> Joel Baker, Talala, Okla.
> Josh Bertrand, Gilbert, Ariz.
> Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla.
> Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla.
> Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark.
> Brandon Card, Caryville, Tenn.
> Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan.
> Hank Cherry, Maiden, N.C.
> Jason Christie, Park Hill, Okla.
> Rick Clunn, Ava, Mo.
> Keith Combs, Huntington, Texas
> John Crews, Salem, Va.
> Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La.
> Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark.
> Ott DeFoe, Knoxville, Tenn.
> Kurt Dove, Del Rio, Texas
> Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala.
> James Elam, Tulsa, Okla.
> Paul Elias, Laurel, Miss.
> Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla.
> Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas
> Grant Goldbeck, Boerne, Texas
> Shaw Grigsby Jr., Gainesville, Fla.
> Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La.
> Charlie Hartley, Grove City, Ohio
> BJ Haseotes, Centerville, Mass.
> Kevin Hawk, Guntersville, Ala.
> Matt Herren, Trussville, Ala.
> Kenyon Hill, Norman, Okla.
> Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz.
> Davy Hite, Ninety Six, S.C.
> Jamie Horton, Centreville, Ala.
> Tim Horton, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
> Randy Howell, Springville, Ala.
> Michael Iaconelli, Pittsgrove, N.J.
> Kelley Jaye, Dadeville, Ala.
> Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas
> Kelly Jordon, Palestine, Texas
> Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala.
> Mike Kernan, Wylie, Texas
> Kotaro Kiriyama, Moody, Ala.
> Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas
> Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla.
> Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla.
> Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala.
> Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala.
> Kevin Ledoux, Choctaw, Okla.
> Brandon Lester, Fayetteville, Tenn.
> Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Calif.
> Bill Lowen, Brookville, Ind.
> Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala.
> Aaron Martens, Leeds, Ala.
> Billy McCaghren, Mayflower, Ark.
> Mike McClelland, Bella Vista, Ark.
> Mark Menendez, Paducah, Ky.
> Jared Miller, Norman, Okla.
> Yusuke Miyazaki, Forney, Texas
> Ish Monroe, Hughson, Calif.
> Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C.
> Chad Morgenthaler, Coulterville, Ill.
> Rick Morris, Virginia Beach, Va.
> David Mullins, Mount Carmel, Tenn.
> John Murray, Phoenix, Ariz.
> Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C.
> James Niggemeyer, Van, Texas
> Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas
> Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss.
> Brandon Palaniuk, Rathdrum, Idaho
> Chad Pipkens, Holt, Mich.
> Clifford Pirch, Payson, Ariz.
> Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala.
> Pete Ponds, Madison, Miss.
> Chip Porche, Bixby, Okla.
> Jacob Powroznik, Prince Grove, Va.
> Cliff Prince, Palatka, Fla.
> Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas
> Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif.
> Derek Remitz, Grant, Ala.
> Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C.
> Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
> Trevor Romans, Plano, Texas
> Scott Rook, Little Rock, Ark.
> Fred Roumbanis, Bixby, Okla.
> Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas
> Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky.
> Joseph Sancho, New Windsor, N.Y.
> Casey Scanlon, Shawnee Mission, Kan.
> Bernie Schultz , Gainesville, Fla.
> Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla.
> Morizo Shimizu, Osaka, Japan
> Kevin Short, Mayflower, Ark.
> Fletcher Shryock, New Philadelphia, Ohio
> Michael Simonton, Fremont, Ohio
> David Smith, Del City, Okla.
> Brian Snowden, Reeds Spring, Mo.
> Jeremy Starks, Scott Depot, W.Va.
> Gerald Swindle, Warrior, Ala.
> Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla.
> Dennis Tietje, Roanoke, La.
> J Todd Tucker, Moultrie, Ga.
> Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
> Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich.
> Byron Velvick, Boerne, Texas
> Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala.
> David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn.
> Nate Wellman, Newaygo, Mich.
> Jason Williamson, Aiken, S.C.
> Kenneth (Boo) Woods, Oneida, Ky.
> Chris Zaldain, San Jose, Calif.