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Senior organizes dragon boat team, raises money for breast cancer

posted Nov 2, 2017, 3:11 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

By Bridger Scoggins, Patton High School student


Kacey Johnson, a senior at Patton High School, put together a team of teens and adults to race in the annual Lake James Dragon Boat Festival on Sept. 30 for her senior project and to raise money for breast cancer. They called themselves the Patton Paddlers. All of the money raised at this festival is donated to breast cancer. Each of the 14 teams at the festival consisted of 20 paddlers, a cox (steerer), and the drummer (determines the paddling pace). The student contestants on the Patton Paddlers were Austin Sweeney, Olivia Kirk, Molly Messenheimer, Katelyn Roper, Evan Westra, Bridger Scoggins, James Scott, Luke Wilcox, Kaedon Spangler, Taylor Sweeney, Calli Westra and Skye Scoggins. Kacey led them as the drummer and captain. These students worked in unison to paddle their way a distance of 250 meters as fast as they could.

The festival had two rounds and then division championships. In the first and second rounds, each team raced once against one opposing team. Each individual team’s times from the first and second rounds were added up, and then each team was seeded 1 through 13. Seeds 1 through 4 were placed in Division A. Seeds 5 through 7 were placed in Division B. Seeds 8 through 10 were placed in Division C. Seeds 11-13 were placed in Division D. Each team in their division raced simultaneously, and the winner of their division was crowned Division Champion.

Kacey and Patton Paddlers took on the Blazing Paddlers in the first round, putting up a time of 01:13.36. They barely beat the time of 01:14.09 by the opposing team. Patton Paddlers’ 01:08.15 lost the second round to the Healing Dragons of Charlotte’s time of 01:06.88. Gaining the 5th seed overall, and top seed in Division B, the Patton Paddlers were upset by the Breath of Fire in the Division B Championship in the closet finish of the day. The times were separated by 00:00.08 (01:07.30 to 01:07.38).

Kacey said, “I am extremely happy with the results of the day, even though we didn’t win our last race. After all, none of us on my team had even touched a dragon boat before. We had no idea what were doing, and had to learn on the go.”

Evan said, “I was shocked at how tiring the races were. The 250m finish line didn’t look that far away when you are at the starting line, but the time it took to get there felt like forever. It was just really important for us to stay in unison, paddling at the same time. That created the most speed and gave us the edge if we could do it.”