By Pete Robbins
It seems that I couldn’t have written a more piss poor prediction had I invented the Sports Illustrated curse myself. Just a few days after I blogged about Greg Hackney being one of three anglers who’d leapfrogged KVD and two others to become the top three on the Elite Series, the Cayuga event concluded with KVD on top and the Hack Attack dead last.
It’s clearly unfair to state that this represents some sort of career plummet for Hackney. His Day One catch was disqualified, and but for that he would’ve garnered some valuable points despite losing his previously substantial lead in the AOY race. The individual tournament result doesn’t reflect any decline in his fishing ability, just a lapse in his decision making ability. He’s still in 5th place in the AOY race, and while this poor finish might ultimately doom his chances of earning his second such Elite Series title, he’s still within range.
Where I really made the mistake, however, is assuming that KVD had dropped out on the basis of a couple of less-than-KVD-like seasons. If you read the last blog, you know that I was careful to point out that Kevin, Ike and Skeet hadn’t free-fallen to become the 97th, 98th and 99th best anglers on tour. Instead, I just suggested that perhaps they weren’t quite the dominant top three that they’d been less than a decade ago. With his second win in a seven week stretch, on two vastly different bodies of water, it’s hard to buy into the idea that VanDam is anything other than one of the best three anglers on tour at this moment, and that he should continue to be so for a very long time. A downturn of even a year can’t take that away, and as always, if you come at the king, you best not miss.
His story and Hackney's story are not strictly a matter of one rising and one falling, but rather of two anglers competing at such a high level that the difference between first and last is often negligible.