July 9, 2002 by Gary Mortenson
Lefebre, Strege declared winners of EverStart Northern Division season opener on Mississippi River
MINNEAPOLIS - After nearly a week of deliberation and investigation, FLW Outdoors tournament officials have concluded that pro Dave Lefebre and co-angler Paul Strege are, in fact, the winners of the June 26-29 EverStart tournament on the Mississippi River. By issuing their ruling, tournament officials formally dismissed a protest filed against Lefebre for allegedly violating tournament safety regulations on the final day of competition.
"After a thorough investigation into a possible violation of safety regulations, we have concluded that no infraction occurred," said EverStart Tournament Director Jerry Stakely.
Tournament finalist Koby Kreiger originally filed the protest along with pro competitor Aaron Larocque. Kreiger had reportedly witnessed Lefebre standing in his boat without his ignition shutdown device attached to his person while the motor was running - a violation of tournament regulations.
"I filed the protest at the beginning of the weigh-in before I knew who had what weight," said Kreiger, who, ironically, would have benefited the most from the protest. "It was a tough decision to file a protest, but I believed that (Lefebre) had broken the rules. Personally, I have nothing against the guy. I don't feel any different about him now that the tournament is over. It's just that rules are rules."
However, while Lefebre acknowledged that he didn't have the ignition shutdown device attached to his life jacket - which is the most common place to affix the device - he said he did have it attached to his footwear at all times. And because it was attached to his footwear, Lefebre said, it was difficult for other anglers to see.
After much deliberation and extensive interviews with all parties, tournament officials eventually sided with Lefebre's version of events.
"It's just unbelievable," said Lefebre, of the recent turn of events. "I fully understand why we had to go through all the procedures to get to this outcome, but it was definitely an experience. Personally, I take these type of safety issues very seriously. In the end, though, everything seemed to work out."
Ultimately, the ruling paved the way for Lefebre to pick up his first-place prize of $15,000 and a brand new Ranger boat valued at another $35,000. Strege, who initially had his purse withheld because he was Lefebre's partner on the final day of competition, netted a $6,000 first-place prize after officially being declared the winner of the Co-angler Division.
Final-day standings unchanged
As a consequence of the ruling, all final-day tournament weights were permitted to stand.
In the Pro Division, Lefebre used an 11-pound, 5-ounce catch to secure the belated victory, while Kreiger of Osceola, Ind., finished the tournament in second place with a catch of 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Kreiger received a check for $10,000.
Mike Feldermann of Galena, Ill., finished in third place and won $9,000 with a catch of 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
Richie Eaves of Nauvoo, Ill., took home fourth place and $8,000 with a catch of 6 pounds, 13 ounces, while Charlie Evans of Gilbertsville, Ky., finished the tournament in fifth place, winning $7,500 with a catch of 5 pounds, 13 ounces.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 finalists were Howie Lee (sixth) of Brooklyn Park, Minn., with a catch of 5 pounds, 7 ounces; Aaron Larocque (seventh) of Wabasha, Minn., with a catch of 5 pounds, 3 ounces; Tom Monsoor (eighth) of Lacrosse, Wis., with a catch of 3 pounds, 10 ounces; William Frisk (ninth) of West Salem, Wis., with a catch of 3 pounds; and John Johnson (10th) of Winnebago, Ill., with a catch of 1 pound, 3 ounces.
Strege wins co-angler title
By virtue of the ruling, Strege of Woodbury, Minn., was awarded the co-angler title after turning in a catch of 10 pounds, 3 ounces.
Randy Ramsey of Riverside, Ill., finished the tournament in second place with a catch of 6 pounds, 7 ounces. Ramsey took home $4,000 for his efforts.
Mitch Pierson of Newton, N.J., won $3,500 after finishing third with a catch of 5 pounds, 5 ounces.
Ron Gerstenmaier of Uniontown, Ohio, won $3,000 after landing in fourth place with a total catch of 4 pounds, while Robert Oines of Beaver Dam, Wis., finished in fifth place with a catch of 3 pounds, 10 ounces. Oines won $2,500 for his efforts.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 co-angler finalists were Tom Howland (sixth) of Riceville, Iowa, with a catch of 1 pound, 12 ounces; Dick Bowman (seventh) of Thornville, Ohio, with a catch of 0 pounds; Terry White (eighth) of Wellsboro, Penn., with a catch of 0 pounds; Mike Mattis (ninth) of Hudson, Wis., with a catch of 0 pounds; and Jeff Krisher (10th) of Madison, Wis., with a catch of 0 pounds.
EverStart Northern Division action resumes July 24-27 in Ticonderoga, N.Y., at Lake Champlain.
Results of day-four pairings