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Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team seeks fifth straight national title

Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team members Kenny Kasperbauer and Makenzie Sousely paddle into Gig Harbor Bay during team practice last year. The team is looking to win its fifth consecutive national title in Oklahoma City this week.
Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team members Kenny Kasperbauer and Makenzie Sousely paddle into Gig Harbor Bay during team practice last year. The team is looking to win its fifth consecutive national title in Oklahoma City this week. Staff file, 2015

The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team is looking to win its fifth consecutive national title in Oklahoma City this week. Thirty-nine athletes ages 12 to 21 will be representing the Gig Harbor team looking to extend the streak.

The team is now coached by Holm Schmidt following Alan Anderson’s retirement earlier this year. Anderson built the club from a tiny operation to a national power during his time as the head coach. Schmidt, an East German native, was hired in 2015 as a high-performance coach to take the team’s top athletes to the next level.

The 2016 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championship takes place on the Oklahoma River’s world-class 2,000-meter race course. The four-day event will include competitors of all ages from across the country and include the U.S. Masters National Championship.

Georgia’s Lake Lanier club as well as host Oklahoma City figure to be tough obstacles for GHCKRT’s five-peat chances.

Parent volunteers will be critical in helping the team with equipment and logistics issues throughout the four-day competition.

In last year’s national championship, GHCKRT beat Georgia’s team by 150 points, a huge margin.

The competition is also the qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Hopes Regatta. Twelve Gig Harbor athletes will be competing for spots on Team USA to represent the United States in international competition in Szeged, Hungary in September.

Competition runs from Wednesday (Aug. 3) through Saturday (Aug. 6).

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