Donna Lueke

Donna Lueke

Editor for Schaffner Publications, Inc. Website URL:

12-year-old with local ties sets new record in 340-mile canoe race




While many were glued to their television sets watching the Olympics the past two weeks, friends and relatives of 12-year old Lauren Redfern were closely watching their computer screens and Facebook pages as she made a little history of her own.  She’s not competing in London, but she did become the youngest competitor to participate and complete the Missouri American River MR340, a 340-mile endurance canoe and kayak race across the state of Missouri from the first stroke in Kansas City to the last gasp in St. Charles.


Lauren, a soon-to-be seventh grader at Holy Childhood School in Mascoutah, Illinois, is the daughter of former Port Clinton and Marblehead residents Jonathan and Edie (Gaydosh) Redfern. The family relocated to Mascoutah, which is about 30 minutes from St. Louis, 3 years ago when Jonathan, a senior master sergeant in the Air Force, was transferred to Scott Air Force Base.


At 12-years old, Lauren set the record as the youngest paddler ever to compete and finish the MR340 race, the longest non-stop canoe race in the world.  She and her father, a 1988 graduate of Port Clinton High School, and family friend and teammate, Kaitlin Jiral, 21, of San Marcos, Texas spent a rigorous 54 hours and 27 minutes paddling day and night down the Missouri River.


During the event, teams had mandatory checkpoints with race officials that also offered a rest stop where support teams could provide food and medical supplies.  At the start of the race July 30, there were

340 teams, but by Aug. 3, only 230 finished, giving the Redfern team third place in their division and an 18th overall finish.


Jonathan is an experienced paddler who has competed in adventure races and canoe/kayak racing all over the world.  His interest in paddling began nearly 20 years ago when he was stationed at Howard Air Force Base in Panama, where he and Edie, raced in Cayucos [hollowed out trees built by local Indians indigenous to Central America] from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the Panama Canal.  His most recent endeavor was the Texas Water Safari (the world's toughest canoe race), where he and his teammate finished in the top 20.  Jonathan is also a veteran of the MR340 having paddled twice previously with top 5 finishes both times.  In 2010, after some persuasion, he joined a team that now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest journey by a dragon boat.  Lauren has spent her entire life cheering on her dad; it was only natural that she would become interested in competing as well.  Because of Jonathan’s extensive paddling skill and knowledge, Lauren was allowed to get an age-waiver to participate in this year’s race.


Lauren began training in earnest for the MR340 about a month ago.  “My dad and I did some short trips to the Kaskaskia River so that I could learn how to paddle correctly and steer the boat,” said Lauren.  “He also made me learn how to do a wet entry just in case we flipped.  We drove to St. Louis and did a long paddle so I could get used to the river and could learn how hard it would be to sit in the boat for long periods of time.  My dad is huge on safety and drilled me on boating safety rules, what-if scenarios and marine and river terminology.”  In addition, her dad had her read extensively about food, nutrition, and the importance of electrolytes.  To prepare, she also stopped drinking sugar and caffeine.


Those safety lessons came in handy in the early hours of the morning on night two, when they found a female solo paddler in distress.  The paddler had become separated from her boat and was calling for help.

Team Redfern was successful in rescuing her and her boat and they were able to contact the race safety officials and provide exact coordinates to aid the paddler who did eventually finish the race.


“My motivation for participating in this race was knowing that if I finished I would be the youngest paddler to ever do the race and paddle the entire 340 miles,” said Lauren, that and a promise of an ice cold McDonald’s Coke at the finish line kept me going.”


Lauren said the hardest part of the race was staying in the boat when you really wanted to get out and of course trying to stay awake.


“It’s very easy to get angry at your teammates when you are tired, hungry, wet and cold,” she said. “It was also a little strange to be so tired that your eyes start to play tricks on you.  I kept seeing large crowds of people and a bear on the sand bars.”


Endurance, competitiveness and patience were other key skills the team said they used to complete the race.


Lauren’s mom, Edie, a 1989 graduate of Danbury High School, said that, “even though Lauren is very adventurous, she did have one small fear--Asian Carp.  She’s had previous experience with them jumping into her kayak and actually bruising her ribs before she could get it back out of the boat.”


During this trip at night while the team was skirting one of the shallow dikes, three carp jumped into their boat, but no one was hurt.


“It was scary and the biggest fish I have ever seen,” said Lauren. “It was dark, we were stuck on a log and the fish weighed at least 20 pounds.  I’ve been hit by an Asian carp before so I was even more scared that I would get hurt.  The fish was so big my dad (Jonathan) had to grab it by its tail with both hands and throw it out of the boat.  Two more jumped in before we were able to get out of the wing dike. Kaitlin and I were screaming the entire time and our fellow paddlers teased us about it for miles down the river.”


“Anyone who knows Jonathan, Lauren and Kaitlin knows they are very competitive, however our goal for both girls was for this race to be a positive experience so that they would want to race again,” said Edie.

“So many times we see young athletes in paddling sports compete in one race, never to compete again,” said Jonathan.  “We hoped that both of them would enjoy the experience so much that they would get ‘hooked’!

 I think we were successful.”  Who knows maybe in a few years there will be a female tandem of Redfern and Jiral!



PC looks to finish with winning record for first time since '93


By Yaneek Smith (byline)

Sports editor (bycredit)

In each of the last two seasons, the Port Clinton Redskins have fallen just short of finishing with a winning record.

In 2010, the Redskins, sitting at 5-3, lost their final two games and, last season, after storming out of the gate with a 5-2 record, fell in their final three contests. But more than that, they'd like to compete for a playoff spot. (Port Clinton fell just 2.05 points short of qualifying for the postseason last year.)

Toby Hammond, now in his ninth year at the helm coaching the Redskins, has rebuilt a program that averaged 1-2 wins per season before he arrived. Hammond knows a thing or two about winning, having taken St. Mary Central Catholic to the Div. V State Championship Game in 1990.

The team returns 15 starters, eight on offense and seven on defense.

With running backs Diante Laurel and Jacob Carrisales and wide receiver Steve Wingo gone, the Redskins will have to replace their share of offensive production. Fortunately, their offensive line, which includes five seniors returns all five starters from last season. The unit of Ben Petersen, Chris Overfield, Nick Leone, Robert Beck and Cory Colston features five three-year starters and makes for a strong foundation.

“We're banking on our experience on the offensive line (helping us this season),” said Hammond.

Also returning is quarterback Addison Rospert, a stellar athlete who can make things happen by throwing and running the ball. Collin Yurista and Keegan will both see time at running back with Cody Smith serving as the fullback. Brock Moore, Justin Holmes and Chris Stokes are the three primary receivers and Trey Gluth will start at tight end.

On the defensive side of the ball, Colston and Tristen Mallory will play both end positions and Smith, Gluth, Beck, Michael Kirkpatrick and Zach Wheeler will rotate in on the interior part of the line.

Lowe, Overfield and Alex Bastian will start at linebacker and the secondary is comprised of Stokes, Moore, Rospert and Chris Weaver.

Hammond notes that the defense, which might be the fastest he's had during his time in Port Clinton, must keep improving from week-to-week and get solid contributions from some of its sophomores and juniors who have seen little varsity action in the past. Depth is also an issue with the team, especially on defense.

After hosting Woodmore to open the season, the Redskins go on the road for four consecutive games. If they're able to get through that portion of the schedule with three wins, they'll be in good shape heading into the second half of the season. It's possible that six wins could get Port Clinton into the playoffs this season.

The second game of the season has the Redskins traveling Delphos to take on the St. John's Blue Jays, a Div. VI powerhouse program that has won six state titles in the last 15 years. How Port Clinton performs against St. John's could set the tone for the rest of their season.

Hammond is looking forward to the challenge.

“It's really gonna help us down the road,” Hammond said of playing the Blue Jays. “If you're going to be a good football team, you've got to beat good teams.”

If there was ever going to be a year when the Redskins could get over the hump and finish with 6-7 wins and compete for a playoff spot, now is the time.

When asked about his team potentially finishing with a winning record, Hammond summed it up bluntly.

“If we don't do it now, I don't know when we will.”

Rockets hope for spot in playoffs

Rockets hope for spot in playoffs

By Yaneek Smith (byline)
Sports Editor (bycredit)
Since taking over for former head coach Gary Quisno, Mike May has helped to revive a program that fallen on hard times. During May's tenure, the Rockets have gone from being a mediocre team to one that is consistently competing for league titles and playoff berths.
In fact, the Rockets have gone a combined 13-7 in each of the last two seasons and have been in the hunt for both the Sandusky Bay Conference crown and a playoff spot.
However, the Rockets lose their share of production on both sides of the ball, but do return 10 starters, including five on offense and five on defense.
Offensively, Oak Harbor employs a standard two-back, two-receiver system that focuses on running the football. Running back Mark Konieczny, who rushed for over 1300 yards in 2011, is expected to have another stellar season. In fact, the season Konieczny has could go a long way in determining the success of the offense. May feels that the offensive line is improved from last year and, as a result, expects big things from Konieczny.
Senior Austin Wiegand, who played wide receiver last season, replaces Brian Mallernee. Like Mallernee, Wiegand is a dual threat who can throw the ball downfield and make plays with his legs.
“We've been real pleased with (Austin) throwing the ball and I think that he will be good (this season),” May said.
A.J. Cecil returns at wide receiver and helps to provide a downfield threat. Currently, seniors Chris Tabbert and Jamie Balboa and sophomore Cole Wierich are competing for the second spot at receiver.
The offensive line was effective last year, but May expects them to be slightly improved this time around. Zane Troknya, a former tight end, takes over at center and is flanked by guards Nate Segaard and Mitch Hayslett with Dalton Reau filling in at right tackle. Vince Szabo and Aaron Hopkins are currently battling it out for the all-important left tackle position.
“We feel like we'll be improved up front from last year,” May said. “We are looking for steady improvement out of Mark and some big plays.”
Defensively, the Rockets will have to replace several key players, among them Brian and Joey Mallernee, Allen Boss, Ryan Helle and Adam Losie, all of whom were lost to graduation.
The defensive line features the likes of Reau, Hayslett, T.J. Lawrence and Troknya while the linebacking core is comprised of returning starter Kaleb Maguire, Ben Genzman, Jared Chambers and Coby Brough. The secondary, meanwhile, is made up of a rotation of Weigand, Cecil, Wierich and Balboa. Should the defense perform well like it has in the past two seasons, there's no reason to believe that Oak Harbor can't compete for the SBC crown.

Danbury continues rebuilding process


By Yaneek Smith
Sports Editor
Over the past few seasons, the Danbury football program has made progress.
The Lakers have gone from wondering whether or not they would even be able to have a program to becoming consistently competitive to in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference.
Needless to say, it won't be easy to take that next step.
Gone from last year is TAAC Defensive Player of the Year Lucas Kennedy, who is set to play football this fall at Baldwin Wallace College. The defensive back had 101 tackles, four interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Kennedy also earned first-team league honors for his play at quarterback, doing damage with both his arm and his legs as he threw for 1621 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 1266 yards and 15 scores.
The Lakers also lost standout players Ben Adams (OL/LB) and Justin Tester (OL/DL) Cory Schenk to graduation. In 2011, Schenk set the school record for receptions (62) and receiving yards (1087) in a single season.
Taking over for Kennedy under center is senior Zach Kalinoski, who has previously seen time at quarterback, wide receiver and even center. While faced with the task of replacing one of the best players in school history, head coach Bryan Dudash is confident that Kalinoski can do a sufficient job of replacing the production left by Kennedy's graduation. (Former head coach Tim Heffernan is staying on as an assistant.)
“(Kalinoski) throws a nice football, he throws accurately — he's got a pretty good arm,” said Dudash, who served as the team's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons. “I think he throws the ball a little better than Lucas, but doesn't run it as well. I think he was 17-of-28 for 160 yards passing in our last scrimmage. He's done some nice things for us.”
Wide receiver Brandon Bahnsen returns after missing the last five games of the season with a back injury. Aside from Bahnsen, the Lakers lost all of their starting receivers to graduation and must replace, according to Dudash, approximately 90% of their offensive production from '11. Cody German, who will split time between running back and wide receiver is expected to see an increased load.
“We expect him to get 20-25 touches per game,” Dudash said.
Passing the ball is what the Lakers do. They like to run a lot of four-wide receiver sets and focus on a short passing game that gives their receivers a chance to make plays in the open fields. And, while they don't run many plays, they do use a variety of formations to confuse the defense.
Defensively, Dudash sees the defensive line as being one of the team's strengths. Austin Morin will be the primary run stopper and Cooper Eller and John McClellan will rush from the edge. Taylor Molnar is taking over at middle linebacker and fills the void left by Adams.

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