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‘Paddle harder’

2019 Canoe & Kayak races kick off with youth division

Times Observer photo by Dave Ferry From left, Mike and Luke Josefik at the Warren YMCA after both competing in the C-1 Youth Division of the 2019 National Canoe & Kayak Championships. Mike won his first canoe race in the first heat and Luke paddled his way to victory in the third heat on Thursday

Rain and thunderstorms had not quite moved into the area by the time the canoe races started on Thursday morning at Chapman Lake, but the wind was strong enough to challenge some young paddlers.

It was Luke Josefik’s first time competing on the lake.

“It’s beautiful here with the mountains,” said the boy whose family traveled from Illinois for the competition. “But the wind was kinda tough.”

Josefik was among six participants in the third heat of the C-1 Youth Division (ages 8 to 10) of the 2019 National Canoe & Kayak Championships that kicked off at Chapman Lake. He was the fastest paddler to get from the yellow to red buoys.

“What a great race,” he said as he slapped hands with his father, Ben.

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm Mike Josefik and his father, Ben, paddle back after Mike won his first canoe race in the first heat of the C-1 Youth Division of the 2019 National Canoe & Kayak Championships that kicked off at Chapman Lake Friday morning. The event continues on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Allegheny River.

The family travels all over the country for similar competitions, according to Tammy Josefik — mother of both Luke and his equally-competitive younger brother, Mike. They appreciate the scenery here. Illinois doesn’t have mountains next to lakes, according to Ben.

“We just have corn and soybeans,” he said.

As Ben shouted encouragement from his canoe, Tammy traveled along the shoreline. They were among lots of onlookers, shouting “paddle harder” and “go, go, go.”

Mike Josefik was among three participants in the first race of the morning. He took first place in the C-1 Youth Division for ages 5 to 7. He barely got his canoe to the beach before he jumped out and ran ashore to his mom. The win was his first.

The U.S. Canoe Association’s Canoe and Kayak National Championship races continue on the Allegheny River Friday through Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Kelli Anthony Luke Josefik paddled his way to victory in the third heat of the C-1 Youth Division (ages 8 to 10) of the 2019 National Canoe & Kayak Championships that kicked off at Chapman Lake Friday morning. The event continues on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Allegheny River.

It is the seventh time the USCA Nationals will be held here. The races were held here every other year from 2003 through 2009, then in 2012 and 2015.

The USCA marathons begin below Kinzua Dam and end at Betts Park, with upstream sections at Shipmans Eddy and at the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Warren.

Races are scheduled to begin each day at 9 a.m.

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