Chapman reaches lifelong goal
TTBAOY trophy rewards the reinvented Kansan
Brent Chapman secured the 2012 Toyota Trucks Bassmaster Angler of the Year title — similar to being named MVP — on Day Three of the Ramada Championship on Oneida Lake.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Maybe Brent Chapman will let up now. The man many regard as the most focused, single-minded angler of the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series has accomplished exactly what he set out to do at the beginning of the season.
Saturday, Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., was crowned 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, one of the sport’s prestigious achievements. The title comes with a $100,000 prize.
“This is what we all strive for,” Chapman said as he accepted the trophy in front of a crowd at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, where the Bassmaster Elite Series is holding its final two weigh-ins of the regular season.
“I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my back,” Chapman said. “To achieve a lifetime goal — well, I’ve never done that before. It’s probably going to take several days before it sinks in. It’s truly unbelievable.”
The newly crowned Angler of the Year triumphed in the most hotly-contested race in many years. He took the lead in points after the third event. One of his closest friends and traveling buddy, Randy Howell, was one of his strongest threats. Howell even took the lead from Chapman at one point (but they remain friends to this day). Todd Faircloth, and after him, Ott DeFoe, stepped up and turned up the heat.
Coming into the final event on Oneida Lake, Chapman was 13 points ahead of DeFoe, and 20 points in front of Faircloth. Others, such as Terry Scroggins, could have made a run on Chapman by shining at Oneida and walking through a door Chapman opened if he had made mistakes.
It would have taken both that open door and a stellar performance at the New York event to catch Chapman. He remained focused, he worked on his tackle until the wee hours each day, and he slept when he could. He was always forthright about the state of his nerves — up, then settled, then keyed high, then easier again. Even under the extra pressure, he remained gracious — and all along was a contender for the Ramada Championship title.
Saturday, he added to his two-day catch of 30 1/2 pounds by putting about 13 pounds in his livewell by 9:30 a.m. Only then, he said, did he begin to believe the AOY crown might be his. But Chapman still didn’t know what DeFoe had caught, so he was not confident. Back at the weigh-in site, he waited in the wings offstage for his turn to weigh his fish and find out if he won.
“People were already congratulating me,” he said. “But I’m like, ‘I haven’t got it yet. Until they hand me the trophy, I haven’t got it.’ ”
Chapman’s AOY triumph put an end to the reign of Kevin VanDam, who had a four-year command of the title from 2008 through 2011, and has won seven crowns so far in his career.
“It’s been a good run,” VanDam said. “I was trying to make it five. A lot of these guys have stepped up their game, and that’s what great about this sport.”