In the race to figure out whether Mike Iaconelli will rejoin the Elite Series, make TV his sole home, or decamp for an ashram overseas, I’ve ignored one salient fact: That is, while Ike had an incredible season on the Northern Opens, it wasn’t quite a runaway season. He amassed 549 points over three events, as did both Jonathan Kelley and Alex Redwine. Thus all three have the option of going Elite in 2022.
By some mechanism, Kelley was deemed to be the overall points leader. It can’t be by virtue of the alphabet, since last I checked “Ike” comes before “K.” I’m sure that Ronnie Moore, if he’s reading this, will be able to explain how this all shook out. [Note: I checked, and he came out on top by virtue of bringing more weight to the scales on days the entire field fished].
No matter the rationale, Kelley, who looks to these old eyes to be about 12 years old (he’s actually set to turn 26 in a couple of weeks), will always be able to say that he beat Ike. Six tournaments into what may very well turn out to be a lengthy career at B.A.S.S., he’s earned three checks plus a runner-up finish in the 2017 college Southern Regional (while competing for Coastal Carolina University). Notably, all three Opens checks (in five attempts) came this year, the first time he fished a full division. At both the James and the St. Lawrence River he made the top 10 and therefore got to fish all three days. In those three derbies alone, he earned over $20k, a substantial down payment on a tour career.
So I hope that this small column is enough to make amends for overlooking his accomplishments to date, and if this small sample size proves to be representative I’m thinking I’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with Jonathan in the future.