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Behind the Scenes with the Skeet Reese at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic (continued)

Well, with the booth broken down and some final things to run up to the room before heading to the Classic, most of the group headed for the friends and family bus. Kim, I and the two girls ran a few things back up the room and got the girls ready for the weigh in. I have to say, Kim held it together pretty well, but there was no doubt she had to be the most anxious person in Shreveport, or so I thought.  On the elevator down to the bus Kim and I discussed the standings when I told her, I know Ike and he generally estimates a little high on his weights. On the other hand, Skeet usually sand bags a little, meaning he under estimates the size of his fish. I didnít realize I knew so much about their fish weighing skills but, I guess when you pay close attention on BassZone.com to each tournament you get a pretty good idea how they estimate fish sizes. I donít think this eased her anxiety any so we agreed we wouldnít talk about it any more and we wouldnít let anyone else discuss it with us either. Onto the bus we climbed where we took our seats and that 20 minute bus ride started.


All the pros wanted the lucky necklace, Joe Thomas was no exception


So now I am sitting right between three time runner up Aaron Martensí wife and Skeetís wife. They exchange some kind words to each other and Lesley asked to sit together at the arena so the kids could play a little (Aaron and Lesley have two kids as well).  Lesley was also very anxious and with the close calls at three of the last few Bassmaster Classics I canít say that I blame her. Aaron has finished in second three times and another second just might be too much to handle. I thought long and hard for twenty minutes about what I might say to ease their anxieties and no matter how long I thought I came up empty on new topics.  So for the most part we made the ride saying very little.


Pulling into the arena parking lot it was a fantastic sight.  The fans were lined up around the parking lot, back and forth. Imagine the longest line youíve seen for a ride at Disneyland and multiply it by 10 or 20.  I had no idea the turn out would be anything like it was. BASS, Shreveport and Bossier did a fantastic job promoting this event and this was the climax of the event. The friends and family bus pulled up behind the arena and they ushered us backstage. This is where they had us wait while they finished the rehearsals with the BASS staff and the fireworks crew. There were a few reports on weights but, nothing to solid to give our group any real idea of who won.  In fact, Skeet later reported he wasnít even sure if he had won.  He said he did a lot of math backstage and still didnít know which way it was going to fall until he saw it on the scales. 


A new champion is crowned, let the fireworks begin!


While waiting I jokingly mentioned to Gary, one of Skeetís good friends, that I had given one of the ďlucky charmĒ necklaces to Ike for the third day and I hope that didnít give him the boost he needed to win it. I got a comment or two (in good fun) from some of the others in our group.  When we finally got to our seats and got settled in we had about an hour and a half to hold it together before the results were in.  Kim was pretty calm considering the circumstances, she held it together about as good as could be expected. I think the girls helped out keeping the mood light and her mind off the events about to unfold.


Is Skeet under there?!


Sitting directly next to me was the family of Federation Nation qualifier Bryan Schmidt.  This was the loudest bunch in the entire arena. Dressed in bright purple t-shirts with Bryanís name on them, this crew came complete with everything to make noise including cow bells. Bryan was having a great tournament and sat in the top 12. They were from a nearby town in Texas. Bryan weighed in 22 pounds 1 ounce on day three to temporarily take the lead. My ears are still ringing, but it was worth it, they were super nice people and Bryan had a fantastic tournament finishing in 6th place.


Skeet talks about his victory


Soon after Ike weighed in his 20 pounds 3 ounce sack and took the lead. Thatís a heck of comeback from the former Angler of the Year and Bassmaster Classic champion. Thatís when the BASS representatives showed up and put a microphone on Kim. That shook her up pretty good, but knew it was a good sign. After she was wired up they ushered her down to the side of the stage with the girls. The rest of us were in the family section waiting for the super six to come out. Out came the super six to a huge roar and the final weigh ins began to unfold.  We knew it was between Ike, Aaron and Skeet and we were about to find out who won. Aaron weighed in and Ike remained on top in the standings. Aaron will get his own Classic title eventually, but 2009 was not the year. 


Skeet fights back the tears of joy


One of the things that I remember most about the Classic was the interviews with Ike in between the others weighing in.  Ike couldnít have been more courteous and professional. I didnít write it down at the time, but he referred to Skeetís hard work over the years and his deserving of the title, if he should win.  He also said, win or lose heíll be back so watch out.  Honestly, Ikeís one of those guys you either love or hate, but had ESPN showed his onstage interviews heíd for sure have swayed many fans to the ďlove IkeĒ side.


The rest is probably already know by the majority of BASS fans, Skeet brought up 16 pounds and 12 ounces, enough to take the lead and win the Bassmaster Classic. Skeet handled it with class, no dancing and not much celebrating to be honest. I think he was more stunned and shocked by his accomplishment than even he could have ever imagined.  In our section there was celebrating going on as well. High fives, hugs and more around the group and it was time to find our way back stage.  I donít think us getting back stage was part of BASSís plan but, we were going to find a way back there.  After a few minutes we found Skeet where we all gave him some congrats and he thanked us all for being there and invited us to the champagne toast, trophy and ring presentation back at the ballroom in the hotel. 


Skeet at the ballroom makes a speech and accepts the Classic Champion ring


We had some work to do before we could go back to the hotel. First we had to finish getting the booth ready and out of the Expo. So while the rest of the crew finished up the booth, I updated Skeetís website with his new Bassmaster Classic Champion photo on the front page of his site. Skeet had a number of press conferences and some other things to partake in so we wouldnít see him for an hour or two. When we arrived back at the hotel we hung around and chatted with many of the other anglers while waiting for Skeet to arrive. It was good to catch up with Ish Monroe, Byron and Mary, Dean Rojas and more while we waited for Skeet to arrive. I also talked with Biosonix rep. Wes Higgins about the Biosonix units part of Skeetís victory. Thatís another thing ESPN didnít really show. Some of Skeetís first words were that he really thought running the Biosonix unit turned the fish on and made the difference for him. Wes told me that KVDís and soon Skeetís patterns would be available for download for Biosonix owners in the near future, so stay tuned for that.


After the final presentation Skeet takes time to sign more autographs


When Skeet finally arrived he made his way into the ballroom where they quickly brought him to the front and presented him with his Bassmaster Classic Champion ring. Skeet gave a great speech where he thanked his fans, his sponsors and his family for being there and supporting him.  From the moment Skeet won until aboutÖwell, maybe sometime next week, Skeetíll be fighting back the tears of victory. Skeet then posed for pictures and signed autographs for several hours before wrapping up and heading to the bar. Thatís when Skeet opened the bar tab for everyone in attendance and took the time to relax and chat with friends, family and his fellow competitors. I am not sure this article does the experience any justice as it was something that I along with everyone else in Skeetís entourage this weekend wonít soon forget. Skeetís going to make a great Champion for the sport.  Congratulations Skeet and thanks for bringing me along for the ride! 


Congratulations to Skeet, and thanks to our Contributing Editor Tom "Leo" Leogrande for this inside look into what happened behind the scenes at the Classic











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