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Fujita, Rookies Continue To Shine

With his victory at Lake Champlain, Kyoya Fujita has now posted four top 10 finishes in the eight Elite Series tournaments.

With his victory at Lake Champlain, Kyoya Fujita has now posted four top 10 finishes in the eight Elite Series tournaments. Yet he still trails Joey Cifuentes III by 15 points in the Dakota Lithium Batteries Rookie of the Year standings. Any way you want to measure it, this appears to be the strongest rookie class in Elite Series history.

Rookies have won half the events: Cifuentes twice (Seminole, St. Clair), Will Davis Jr. (Lay Lake) and now Fujita. Going into the final event of the season at the St. Lawrence River, five rookies are inside the Bassmaster Classic Angler of the Year points cutline (41st): Cifuentes – 6th, Fujita – 8th, Bryant Smith – 14th, Cooper Gallant – 18th, and Davis – 35th. Two more are close: David Gaston – 43rd and Cole Sands – 47th.

Cifuentes, who celebrates his 35th birthday Wednesday, just missed making his third Top 10 of the season at Champlain. The Clinton, Ark., pro finished 11th on Day 3, a mere four ounces less than Austin Felix’s 10th place total.

The finale at the St. Lawrence River this week sets up an interesting battle for the ROY title. Fujita, 27, from Minamitsura, Japan, has had only two stumbles all season – 79th in the opener on Lake Okeechobee and 100th at Santee Cooper. You can make a case for him being the hottest angler on the Elite Series. Check out his other six finishes: 2nd at Lake Seminole, 3rd at Lake Murray, 34th at Lay Lake, 19th at the Sabine River, 7th at St. Lake Clair and 1st at Lake Champlain.

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