The Honesdale Area Jaycees once again sponsored one of its most popular events, the Wayne County Canoe Classic. The 18th annual race went off on Sunday and attracted more than 100 participants.


Water enthusiasts of all shapes, sizes, ages and descriptions converged on the area this weekend to take part in the Wayne County Canoe Classic.

The 18th annual event, which is sponsored by the Honesdale Area Jaycees, took place Sunday afternoon on a watery course that stretched from the fairgrounds in Dyberry all the way to Firemen’s Field in White Mills.

“We’re very happy with the turnout and how well everything went,” Jaycees treasurer Pat Weidner told TWI Sports. “It takes two or three months to put this race together, but it’s all worth it when you have such a beautiful day. All the money we raise at an event like this goes back into the community. So, it’s great to see all these people who came out to support it.”

By the end of the race, nearly 70 kayaks and canoes had crossed the finish line. More than 100 participants ranging in age from seven to 70 completed the course.

While there are those who travel great distances to compete in the Canoe Classic, the majority of this year's entrants were just out for a good time. Moms & Dads, brothers & sisters alike took turns paddling and enjoying a picture-perfect Wayne County day.

The Stories
Steven Nuss and Daniel Hatton are a perfect example of everything good about the Wayne County Canoe Classic. The two 14-year-olds have participated in the race before, but with their parents. This year, they were old enough to enter as partners in the High School division.

“They’re both so pumped,” said Steven’s Mom, Michelle with a laugh. “We followed them all the way and cheered ‘em on. They only capsized twice, so I think it was a pretty good day.”

Steven and Daniel wanted to post the best possible time, but they didn't let their competitive natures rule the day. At one point in the race...a tricky spot on the course not so far from the finish line...the boys came across another boat that was foundering.

An older couple had managed to swamp their canoe and appeared to be in distress.
Neither lad even stopped to think about it: they raced over to lend a hand. Steven helped right the boat, while Daniel went splashing after a pair of floating oars. This bit of good sportsmanship may have hurt their overall time, but it also made for some proud parents.

“That’s just the kind of kids they are,” Michelle said. “They’re good boys and we’re proud of them.”

Nuss & Hatton crossed the finish line at Firemen's Field in a time of 2:26:04, good for third place overall in the bracket standings.

Ethan Wallis and Torre Reese have been best friends ever since they can remember. The two local lads were born just minutes apart and have been nearly inseparable ever since. Ethan and Torre are both 18-years-old and they're seniors at Honesdale High School. But, the similarities don't end there.

In the fall, when many of their classmates will be testing the collegiate waters, Ethan and Torre embark on a different type of adventure. These young men have both signed up to serve their country in the United States Navy. They are slated to report for boot camp at the end of August..after the Wayne County Fair.

“They love the fair,” said Ethan’s Mom, the always-smiling Karen Smith. “They’re pretty heavy into 4-H. So, they both wanted to make sure they got in one last fair. After basic training, they're going to Florida for dive training.”

Ethan and Torre turned in a memorable performance on this day. Wallis & Reese took first place honors in the High School division. The future sailors covered the course in 1:43:37. That time was good enough for a 23-minute cushion over their closest pursuer.

Tim Wood, a teacher and coach in the Wayne Highlands School District, put his family through its paces this weekend. Not only did the Woods compete in Sunday's Canoe Classic, but they also took part in Saturday's annual Bike Hike. All tolled, Tim and his wife Nancy pedaled 20 miles and paddled eight. Their children (Sadie & Sabrina) were right on their heels at both events.

“We’re definitely going to be sore tomorrow,” Woody said with a wink. “We had a lot of fun this weekend as a family.”

The Wood canoes came home less than a minute apart. Tim & Sabrina floated in at 1:54:26, while Nancy & Sabrina stopped the clock at 1:55:05. Those times were good enough for fifth and sixth places, respectively, in the "Parent/Child" class.

Harrison Balthaser and his daughter, Celia, also took part in this weekend's event. They paddled their way to a third place finish in the "Parent/Child" class (1:52:38). However, medals and ribbons were just an afterthought.

Less than three years ago, Harrison was very nearly paralyzed in swimming accident. He dove into the family pool and cracked his head on the cement bottom. At first, no one thought the injury was too serious. Twenty-four hours later, the young Dad found himself in a Life-Flight helicopter en route to a trauma center.

Harrison had suffered a fracture of the C-6 vertebra and needed major surgery to stabilize his spinal column. Thankfully, that scary day is just a distant memory now. On Sunday, however, he looked back and took stock.

“That was definitely a life-changing experience,” Harrison said, taking a deep breath. “It was pretty scary. I really don’t take much for granted anymore. If I couldn’t do things like this with my kids...wow...I don’t even want to think about it.”

Breakin’ It Down
The 18th Annual Wayne County Canoe Classic attracted 67 entrants from all over the region. “Men’s Solo Kayak” was the most popular division with 17 competitors, while “Women’s Solo Kayak” boasted 14 participants. The “Parent/Child” and “Mixed” divisions also drew double digit entries (10 each), while “Men’s Solo Canoe” had just one.

The day’s overall fastest time belonged to Don McConaghy. A veteran whitewater enthusiast from Hadden Township NJ, Don covered the course in a time of 1:16:48.

Here are the winners in each of the race’s eight classifications...
•Men’s Short: Bruce Codington & Nick Hindley ended in a tie with Ron Bomberger & Jeff Shenberger (1:23:22).
•Women’s Short: Danielle Scarfo & Tori Repko (2:22:11).
•Mixed: Molly Myers & Charlie Bruno (1:31:41).
•Junior/High School: Ethan Wallis & Torre Reese (1:42:37).
•Parent/Child: Tom Freda & Tim Freda (1:36:16).
•Men’s Solo Canoe: John Koenig (1:32:31).
•Men’s Solo Kayak: Don McConaghy (1:16:48).
•Women’s Solo: Linda Volpe (1:33:51).