By Mark Clark
Mason Hargrove of Team USA and from Phenix City won the ICF Canoe Freestyle Junior World Kayaking Championship last Friday morning in Sort, Spain, with a run of 960 points – 150 points higher than Team USA’s Dally Kellog managed second place. It has been a rapid rise for the 16-year-old who only began in the sport four years ago. The World Junior event was his first international competition.
In 2017, Hargrove won the National Cadet Class title.
Hargrove scored a two-run total of 1,167 points in the preliminaries to stand in second place heading to the semifinal qualifying round Friday morning. In the semis, kayakers made three 45-second runs and only the highest score counted. Five kayakers qualified for the finals where once more the competitors had three runs of 45 seconds each with only the high score counting toward earning a medal.
Hargrove scored his winning score of 960 points on his first run which included a pair of McNasty moves, a 360 pirouette and a Phoenix Monkey – a high risk and high reward trick that was only performed by him at the World Junior Championship, according to announcers at the event.
Team USA had three competitors in the field of 33 kayakers in Sort and all three qualified for the finals. All three finished in the top four. Hargrove collected the Gold Medal, Kellogg took the Silver Medal and Ricky Frank Harris finished in fourth place with 570 points. Australia’s Jack Newland placed third with 660 points to take the Bronze Medal. Argentina’s Valentin Betarcourt rounded out the top five with 250 points.
“I am so stoked. I just came out here to have some fun, and I got the win,” Hargrove said of his plan and result for the event.
Hargrove attended Phenix City schools until his parents decided to home school their children so that they could travel to competitions. Hargrove and his family are expected to return to Phenix City today.
The youngster trains on the whitewater rapids course on the Chattahoochee River between Phenix City and Columbus, Ga.