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Dragon Boat Champions First Baptist Wins With Faith, Quick Paddles

Some of the best gifts come straight out of the blue and from above.

That came home to roost for Beth Oleson and First Baptist Church on the Square as that unlikely team won the West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race on Saturday at Pyne Road Park.

“We had unity and spirit. We had fantastic rhythm, and we were digging for deep water,” said Oleson, the drummer on the championship boat.

Inside that winning 46foot boat were some sweaty bodies and three pints of giddiness. Prayer and long oars took this strong-willed team and 650-pound boat where it thought it never could go.

“This is unexpected. This is the first time we had a team. We had a lot of prayers and a lot of focus. We had strong oars,” said Oleson, who treasured this winning experience.

Thomas Crocker, the LaGrange High golf coach, was on the first place boat, too. Quite frankly, sometimes Baptists just do it better. Crocker and First Baptist Church on the Square won the dragon boat race with a soaking wet time of 1:04.521.

“We felt like having a lot of fun. We got off to a good start, and we were on rhythm. Like everyone, we like to compete,” said Crocker.

The All Pro Auto team was just a slither behind the winning time. All Pro Auto finished second at 1:05.073. There were some hard core sprinters out on the lake in this 225meter race.

“It was close, and it was fun with some competitive spirit. This was extreme,” said Michele Bedingfield, who was the director of the West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race for the second consecutive year.

Mike Patton Auto Family had a team that was huffing and puffing, too. Mike Patton cruised to a third place time of 1:05.175. The 20 paddlers on the boat worked hard for every heart-beating second.

Hanna Beall was having some good old fashioned fun on the lake as well. Beall was a paddler for the Junior Service League of LaGrange.

“It was breathless and exciting. We were bumping paddles,” said Beall.

She and the others were competing to the best of their dragon boat ability.