Local Venturer crews excel in Arkansas
Published 12:47 pm Monday, August 3, 2015
By Col. Miller
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY NEWS
A spring and summer of intensive canoe practice in the heat, rain and low water in local lakes and rivers paid dividends for local Venturer scouts with another super effort in the 49th annual National Invitational White River Canoe Race July 23-25. The race took place in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas.
Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313, sponsored by the Daily News, led the local contingent of paddlers in a dominating performance at the marathon race by sweeping all major boys canoeing events of the race. The boys recorded four national championships with wins in the Open Cruising, Advance Aluminum, Novice Aluminum and Beginners Aluminum Racing Divisions.
Bush Venturer Crew 213, sponsored by Bateman Diesel of Franklinton, likewise contributed to the performance of the local canoers with one national championship and had second-place finishes in the Girls’ Beginners Aluminum Racing Division and in the Girls Cruising Racing Division. A grueling 120-mile event, the race is considered the foremost water event for scouts. It begins at Bull Shoals, Ark., which is located just south of the Missouri state line, and ends at Batesville, Ark., and is a 3-day, 8-leg race, including two portages around dams with water temperatures averaging a very cool 43-45 degrees.
Participation in the race is unrivaled as one of the most memorable experiences of a scout’s life as it necessitates each participant’s utmost in canoemanship, conditioning, discipline, attitude, stamina and teamwork in competition with scouts nationwide.
The local canoers are members of the Bogue Tuchenna District, Boy Scouts of America, which encompasses all of Washington Parish and western St. Tammany Parish.
Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 won its 15th national championship and the coveted Doug Sumner Memorial Rotating Trophy for having the shortest elapsed time in the 120-mile race in the Open Cruising Racing Division. Crew 313’s winning time of 12 hours, 37 minutes and 32 seconds was 24:54 faster than second place Russellville, Ark., Venturer Crew 300’s time of 13:02.26 and 2:39.11 faster than third place Batesville, Ark. Venturer Crew 320’s time of 15:16.43. Paddling for Crew 313 in the Open Cruising Racing Division were Roo Breland, Rory Breland, Adam Economu, Landon Arabie and Brannan Crosby. Regrettably, two of last year’s cruising team members, Colby Spears (injury) and Tyler Seals (illness) were unable to compete but are hopeful for 2016.
Crew 313 was unchallenged and repeated as national champions in the Boys Advanced Aluminum Racing Division Racing Division and won the Ron Eddings Memorial Trophy for having the shortest time in the boys aluminum racing divisions, 14:27.05. It was Crew 313’s 24th such national title.
Paddling for Crew 313 were in the Advanced Aluminum Racing Division were John Hartzog, Tyler Rester, Matthew Russell, Dylan Seals and Chris Weintritt. One of last year’s team members, Austin Hunt, was unable to compete because of a very serious foot injury. He probably won’t be able to compete next year because he is entering the Marine Corps. Being unchallenged, but eager to have some competition, the advanced team took on the girls cruising teams with Russellville and Bush, which posted 14:44.38 and 14:49.17, respectively.
Crew 313’s third national title was won in the Boys Novice Aluminum Racing Division.
It was the crew’s 23rd such national title. Six teams entered. The crew finished in 15:34.47, which was more than two hours faster than second place Warrenton, Mo., Troop 356. The troop had a time of 17:48.58. Third place Longview, Texas, Crew 621 recorded a time of 17:54.15, followed in order of finish by Warrenton Troop 356, Longview Crew 721 and Cincinnati, Troop 476. Paddling for Crew 313 were James Stevenson III, Rage Rivers, Timothy Rester and Lloyd Sanchez.
Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 entered four teams in the Boys Beginner Aluminum Racing Division, which had nine teams, with Crew 313 having the top four finishers.
Taking first place and the Henry Wilkens Rookie Award for the fastest overall beginners’ team was Cade Ard and Josh Gulczynski with a time of 4:47.46, followed by the runner up, Crew 313B Team of Matthew Dennis and Josh Ard at 4:49.42.
Third place was the Crew 313C Team of Chase Kelehan and David Jenkins with the Crew 313D Team of Barrett Williams and Robert Hall at 4:57.14. The rest of the teams in order of finish were Batesville Troop 220, Cincinnati Troop 476, Batesville Troop 220 and Batesville Troop 320. The Boys Beginners Aluminum Racing Division Teams consist of two paddlers competing one leg each day of the three-day race.
Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 beginners team of Dennis and Ard also received the Doyle Rogers Youth Challenge Award for being the youngest team competing in the race, which is determined by adding the age of the two paddlers.
Adding to the achievements of Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 were teams from Bush Venturer Crew 213 in their inaugural participation in the national race, winning a national trophy for first place in the Girls Beginners Aluminum Racing Division and two second-place trophies in the Girls Cruising Racing Division and Girls Beginners Aluminum Racing Division.
Crew 213’s national championship and first place in the Girls Beginners Aluminum Racing Division was won by paddlers Aryna Stephens and Harley Hunt with a time of 5:49.25.
They finished ahead of Crew 213’s second-place paddlers Maggie From and Kimberlie Davis with a time of 5:55.29.
Bush Venturer Crew 213 was second in the Girls Cruising Racing Division with a time of 14:49.17. They finished behind Russellville Crew 300, which had a time of 14:44.38.
Paddling for Crew 213 were Lauren Haik, Laiton Jenkins, Morgan Thigpen, Morgan Sykes, Jacy Ladner and Kirsten Barber.
Following a solemn ceremony conducted at the awards ceremony, officials and sponsors of the National Explorer/Venturer White River Marathon Race announced that a Girls Crusier Rotating Travelling Trophy would be named and awarded in honor of scouter Dora Mohon, recently deceased Advisor of Varnado Crew 200. Crew 200 was a longtime participant in the national race.
The new trophy will retroactively reflect the fact that Varnado Venturer Crew 200 won the Girls Cruising Division Race in 2014.
Preceding the final day of the race, a very solemn and poignant ceremony was held at the campgrounds of Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 and Bush Venturer Crew 213. Respective paddlers and the many adults from Bogalusa and surrounding communities recognized Mohon and Rupert Breland, the deceased members of Varnado Crew 200 and Bogalusa Venturer 313, respectively, for their dedication, service and positive influence on the youth and the scouting program.
In addition to the competing venturer scouts, crew advisors and coaches, a very large contingent of parents, relatives, former paddlers and friends of the competitors were on hand throughout the race to provide logistical and moral support.
The overall performance in the national canoe marathon race by the local youth again brought national attention to Bogalusa and the surrounding communities and reflected positively on the area’s Explorer and Venturer Scouting Programs.