Sections

Weather Forecast

Close

Cedar River Gang rows to win Dragon Boat Festival Gold Title

The Cedar River Gang celebrates winning the gold medal at the 7th annual Dragon Boat Festival on Lake Bemidji on Saturday afternoon. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 8
Paddlers with Minnesota Public Radio's team - the MPR Radio Waves - grind it out on Lake Bemidji. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 8
Justin Pederson yells out encouragement to a team, showing just why steersmen are a vital component to the Dragon Boat races. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer3 / 8
Jim Koester with the Cedar River Gang walks under a gauntlet of paddles after his team won the gold on Saturday afternoon. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer4 / 8
Buena Vista Ski Patrol member John Lueth collected life jackets after each race. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer5 / 8
Dia Aiello, left, Cheryl Taylor, Lesly Katz and Laurel Weedon with the team Chemo Savvy Pink Lightning display their custom painted paddles. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pionee6 / 8
Rachel Johnson, left and Katie Carter dress the part for the Lakeland Public Television "Lakeland Loveboat" team. In back are Anna Pence and Jamil Donith. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer7 / 8
Drummers yell their teams through the finish line on Lake Bemidji during Saturday's annual Dragon Boat races. The event attracted a field of 63 teams. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer8 / 8

BEMIDJI -- After 37 total races, several spurts of rain and a unforgettable rainbow backdrop to close out the day, the Cedar River Gang rowed its way to gold in the Seventh Annual Dragon Boat Festival at the lakefront.

"It is really a good feeling," Cedar River Gang team captain John Gilliland said.

"We worked hard to beat some really good teams. Just to beat up on someone that is a weaker team doesn't do it, but when you are taking on teams that are better than you and you do well that's what makes you feel good."

The Iowa-based team came into the Gold Division facing some stiff opponents, including the Hydroheads who had the fasted time on the day with a time just under two minutes and 15 seconds.

Though impressive, the Hydrohead's time did not mean anything in the final race as the Cedar River Gang inched them out by nearly a second and a half with a final time of 2:17.70, leading the team to its second victory, the first of which came in 2009.

The team hit its peak at the perfect time, improving on their time after each race, with times of 2:21.67 in the first heat, and 2:18.80 in the second.

"The first race we got to get the jitters out and make some corrections," Gilliland said. "The second race went very well. We faced the River City Dragons and barely nipped them. That gives you a sense of confidence."

Nipped may be an understatement. The team edged out the River City Dragons by four-tenths of a second beating them 2:18.84 to 2:18.80, getting them into the final.

Gilliland said the entire day was a lot of fun as his teammates were able to do some shopping in-between races, soaking up the great atmosphere that he said has kept the team coming back year after year.

Most of the team's rowers come from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the surrounding areas while others are from as close as Duluth.

Gilliland and his teammates were exhausted at the finish but he said the team will soak in the victory before looking ahead to next year.

"That was a very tough race," Gilliland said. "It was not a bad race but there are still things to improve."

RACE RESULTS

Gold Division

1. Cedar River Gang

2. HydraHeads, Headwaters Canoe and Kayak

3. River City Dragons, Winnipeg

4. Prostate Paddlers, Winnipeg

Silver Division

1. Beaver Fever, Bemidji State University

2. The Rowin' Oaks, Oak Hills Christian College

3. Custom Coyote, Coyote 102.5 KKWB

4. Captain Zetah and the Dynamic Paddlers, Zetah Construction

Bronze Division

1. Point O' Salers, North Country Business Products

2. Rowtarians, Bemidji Rotary

3. Wesloh Five-O, Wesloh Family

4. Lakeland Loveboat, Lakeland Public TV

Bankers Cup

Banccaneers, Security BankUSA

Civic Cup

Lion's Pride, Fosston-Lengby Lions

Contractors Cup

Pine Tree Paddlers, Dick's Plumbing & Heating of Bemidji, Inc.

Education Cup

The Rowin' Oaks, Oak Hills Christian College

Health Cup

NorthStars, REM North Star

Media Cup

Paul Bunyan Broadcasting Radio Flyers, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting

Broken Paddle

First Nautical Bank, First National Bank Bemidji

Best Team Name

Pachamama Paddlers, Indigenous Environmental Network

Best Team Appearance

Lincoln Honor Rowl, Lincoln Elementary

Best Team Village

Wesloh Five-O, Wesloh Family

Advertisement