Dylan Puckett of Jones and Bria Cornforth of Oklahoma City are chasing an Olympic dream.
Puckett, 16, and Cornforth, 12, are among the best kayakers in the country for their age groups.
Both have quit attending public schools and are pursuing their education online through the Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy so they train twice a day, six days a week on the Oklahoma River.
Both will be racing in the Head of the Oklahoma regatta Friday night through Sunday on the Oklahoma River.
Last spring, Puckett became the first Oklahoman since the boathouses were built downtown on the Oklahoma River to compete in the Olympic Trials.
Puckett is a two-time junior national champion in sprint kayaking. Puckett and his partner finished sixth this summer at the Olympic Hopes Festival in Hungary, essentially a world championship for athletes 17 and younger.
Puckett and his K2 partner finished sixth overall in the men's 1,000 meters, an Olympic race distance. It was the highest finish the United States men have achieved in several years in the event.
His coaches are optimistic Puckett can be an Olympian in the future.
“Dylan has done a great job setting the pace for the junior program in Oklahoma City and the United States,” said Shaun Cavin, USA Canoe/Kayak national team coach and Oklahoma City University coach.
“He made the final in Szeged (Hungary) at the Olympic Hopes Regatta. It proves his willingness to work hard to achieve his goals because last year at the same event he was blown away by the competition. Now, he is competing on equal footing.
“With more experience next year, he will do even better. He will be aiming for the Junior Worlds in Canada, trying to help the USA back to the level we would like to be.”
Cornforth, from Oklahoma City, began kayaking four years ago and is quickly rising in the national ranks.
Cornforth was one of 16 of the nation's top youth kayakers selected for an elite developmental camp that was held in Oklahoma City this past week.
“She is now one of the best under the age of 14 in the country,” Caven said. “She has had fun with the program and now is reaching the age where she will need to train seriously in order to maintain her improvement. I can see she has the talent and temperament to go a long way in the sport.”
“She has a lot and lot of potential,” he said. “She just has to put her mind to it and train very, very hard and she can be a top junior if she wanted to by she was 15.”
Cornforth also is a talented archer and participates in the Junior Olympic Archery Development in Oklahoma City. The seventh-grader hopes to make the Olympics in both sports.
Both Puckett and Jones say they are committed to the Olympic quest, even though it might be eight or 12 years before either could make it. They say there is no turning back for either of them.
“I have a dream to go to the Olympics and want to succeed at that,” Cornforth said. “I want to make that dream come true.”