Local canoers successful in Arkansas

Published 3:45 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

By Col. Bobby Miller
For the Daily News

It was another outstanding performance by the local canoers in the 51st annual National Explorer/Venturer Scout White River 120-mile Canoe Marathon Race in Arkansas, with the two area venturer crews taking four championships to sweep the major racing divisions in the national event — repeating last year’s performance.
Bogalusa Crew 313 was also selected for the Race Sportsmanship Traveling Trophy.
A spring and summer of intensive canoe practice in local lakes and rivers again paid dividends for the venturer scouts of Bogalusa Crew 313 and Bush Venturer Crew 213 of the Boy Scouts of America.
Their participation in the Dragon Boat, Bayou Liberty Canoe and Pirogue and the 110-mile Bogue Chitto Races also helped prepare the local venturer scouts for the national race.
A grueling 12-mile event, the national race is considered the foremost water event for scouts in one of the most unique, challenging and fun events in the nation.
The race takes participants down some of the most scenic country in America in the heart of the Ozark Mountains of north Arkansas. It begins at Bull Shoals, Ark., located just south of the Missouri state line and ends at Batesville, Ark. It’s a three-day, eight-leg canoe race, covering 120 miles.
The race includes two portages around dams with the water temperature averaging a very cool 65 degrees at the beginning, warming to 72 degrees as it concludes in Batesville.
Participation in the race is unrivaled as one of the most memorable experiences of a scout’s life, necessitating each participant’s utmost in canoemanship, conditioning, stamina and attitude.
The challenge is formidable, but the rewards are genuine and everlasting.
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 Venture Crew 313, sponsored by the The Daily News, led the contingent of area paddlers with three national championships in the Boys’ Open Cruising, Boys Advance Aluminum and Boys’ Novice Aluminum Racing Divisions.
Bush Venturer Crew 213, sponsored by Sun United Methodist Church, won the National Championship in the Coed Open Cruising Racing Division for the area’s fourth National Title in the race.
Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 won their 17th National Championship in the Boys’ Open Cruising Racing Division and the coveted Doug Sumner Rotating Trophy for having the shortest cumulative time in the 120-mile race regardless of racing division.
Paddling for Crew 313 were Brannan Crosby, Rory Breland, Chris Weintritt and Josh Gulczynski with a winning time of 12 hours, 59 minutes, 33 seconds. They were 11 minutes, 30 seconds faster than second place Russellville, Ark. Crew 313. They had a time of 13:11.03, which was 58 minutes, 16 seconds quicker than third place Woodlands, Texas Crew 204 that had a time of 13:57.49.
Crew 313 won its second national title of the race in the Boys’ Advanced Aluminum Racing Division at 15:05.41. It was the crew’s 26th title in this division.
The 313 paddlers were Adam Economu, James Stevenson III, Matthew Dennis and Matthew Russell. Economu took a seven-day leave of absence from his Air National Guard Unit to complete the four-man team.
Crew 313’s third national title of the race was won in the Boys’ Novice Aluminum Racing Division and the Ron Eddings Memorial Traveling Trophy by having the shortest accumulative time in the race. Crew 313’s time was 15:00.32, which was 7 minutes, 25 seconds over Venturer Crew 204 of Woodlands, Texas. They had a time of 15:07.57.
It was the crew’s 25th title in the racing division and the first time a novice team has ever won the coveted traveling trophy.
Canoeing for the team were Rex Perrette, Zachary Kirkland, Julian Hennesy and Jacob Stillwell.
Bush Venturer Crew 213 won the Coed Cruising Division National Championship and the traveling trophy for the area venturer crew scouts’ fourth national title in the 120-mile race with a time of 14:14.18.
Paddling for the crew were Lauren Haik, Tyler Seals, Kirsten Barber and Kyle Pennino.
Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 was also selected for the Sportsmanship Traveling Trophy, which is awarded to the racing crew best representing the commonly accepted attributes of good sportsmanship such as fair play, respect for others, including teammates, competitors and officials, helpfulness, positive attitude, fellowship, encouragement and effort.
The winner of this award is selected by all of the team captains representing their respective racing crews entered in the race.
The overall performance in the national canoe race by the local youth again brought national attention to Bogalusa and surrounding communities, reflecting positive on the areas’ Explorer and Venturer Scouting Programs, its youth and adult leadership.
In addition to the venturer scouts, a very large support group of parents, former paddlers and friends of the competing scouts were on hand to witness the race and provide logistical and moral support for the paddlers.

Shown are Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 Boys’ Novice Aluminum Racing Division Champions. Kneeling is Rex Perrette. Standing from left are Zachary Kirkland, crew advisor Col. Bobby Miller, Julian Hennesy and Jacob Stillwell.

Pictured are the Bush Venturer Crew 213 Coed Cruising National Champions. From left are Lauren Haik, Kirsten Barber, trophy presenter Miss White River Chelsea Smith, Kyle Pennino and Tyler Seals.

Pictured are Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 Advanced Aluminum National Champions. From left are Matthew Russell, Matthew Dennis, trophy presenter Miss White River Queen Chelsea Smith, James Stevenson III and Adam Economu.

The entire Bogalusa Crew 313 paddlers along with crew advisor Col. Bobby Miller and trophy presenter Miss White River Chelsea Smith are shown, as the crew was selected by its peers for the race’s Sportsmanship Traveling Trophy.

Pictured are the Bogalusa Venturer Crew 313 Open Cruising National Champions. From left are Brannan Crosby, Josh Gulczynski, trophy presenter Miss White River Chelsea Smith, Chris Weintritt and Rory Breland.