WILDWOOD CREST — The Wildwood Beach Patrol made history Friday evening.
Wildwood was the only patrol that scored in each of the six events to win the Cape May County Lifeguard Championships for the first time in the 34 years of the competition.
“What an all-around team effort,” Wildwood Beach Patrol Chief Steve Stocks said. “We talked about it at roll call this morning, that we wanted to try to score in every event. I think if you get too concerned about winning races you put too much pressure on yourself. In ocean racing, if you score in every event you have a chance to win and be a champion.”
Steve McGuinn and Brandon Joyce got Wildwood off to a great start by winning the doubles row by a comfortable eight-second margin. It was the first county championship race win for McGuinn, 49, since the 28th-year lifeguard and Philadelphia teacher placed first in the singles row in 2006.
“We’re not the biggest guys out here, so it helped us that it was more of a flat-water row with the conditions we had,” said Joyce, a 26-year-old Philadelphia resident in his 11th summer as a lifeguard. “We weren’t bouncing around the boat out there.”
Also for Wildwood, Ryan Calin placed second in the run-swim; Tom Coleman and Joyce were third in the rescue board race and singles row, respectively; Bill Auty finished fourth in the swim; and the surf-dash relay team of Brady Deckert, Shane McDevitt, Hayden McKinstry and Kyle Mallon was fifth.(tncms-asset)503deba8-6387-11e7-9489-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Scoring was done on a 6-4-3-2-1 basis for first through fifth places. Wildwood scored 19 points to beat second-place Ocean City by a point. Sea Isle was third with 15.
“This is a great way for us to start off the summer,” Stocks said. “We’ve been trying to build toward this, but we haven’t been able to break through the wall because there are a lot of really good teams out here. But on this night, in this ocean, we’re the best in the Cape May County, and it feels great. I know all of our lifeguards are proud.
“We have a young team. Hopefully we’re teaching them the right way to do things.”
Sea Isle City’s Jeff Buyse, 25, won the rescue board for the third time in his career. He returned to the Sea Isle Beach Patrol this summer after spending two years living in Alaska and working as a commercial fisherman.
“It went well for me,” Buyse said. “I was a little behind at the start, but I made up the ground before the first flag, and I was able to hold everyone off all the way through.”
Sea Isle’s Conall Loughlin enjoyed a comfortable victory in the swim. The 22-year-old Penn State University student, a member of the Penn State water polo team, beat Wildwood Crest’s Jon Burkett by eight seconds.
“It was a hard race,” Loughlin said. “I got a lot of encouragement every time I turned around because people were right behind me the whole way.”
Ocean City’s Brian McGroarty, who graduated from Mainland Regional High School last month and is set to swim at Louisiana State University, won the run-swim for the third straight summer.
“I love this event because it involves two things I love to do — running and swimming,” McGroarty said. “It’s good that they’re both mixed together for this race. It’s a really good test of endurance.”
Seventh-year lifeguard John Ruskey, a recent graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in health administration, won his first-ever out-of-town race by taking first place in the singles row. Ruskey held a short lead over Avalon’s Erich Wolf about 50 yards from the finish and got a nice push from a wave to pull away.
“I’ve finally started to figure out how to row straight into a wave and use it to my advantage,” Ruskey said with a smile. “It was nice to lean into it and shoot straight in.”
Host Wildwood Crest won the surf dash relay by three seconds over Avalon. The Crest dashers were Brett Pederson, Jake Klecko, Pat Bakey and Burkett.
TEAM SCORING: 1. Wildwood 19; 2. Ocean City 18; 3. Sea Isle 15; 4. Wildwood Crest 14; 5. Avalon 13.
DOUBLES ROW: 1. Steve McGuinn and Brandon Joyce (W); 2. Bryan Theiss and Shanin Theiss (OC); 3. Anthony Onimus and Andrew Treffeisen (CM); 4. Jacob Enright and Matt Wolf (A); 5. Justin Naylor and Pat Scannapieco (SIC).
RESCUE BOARD: 1. Jeff Buyse (SIC); 2. Brett Pederson (WC); 3. Tom Coleman (W); 4. John Gregory (A); 5. Pat Kennedy (CM).
SWIM: 1. Conall Loughlin (SIC); 2. Jon Burkett (WC); 3. Quinn Cassidy (OC); 4. Bill Auty (W); 5. Justin McLellan (SH).
RUN-SWIM: 1. Brian McGroarty (OC); 2. Ryan Calin (W); 3. Chip Schoder (SH); 4. Zach Emerson (SIC); 5. John Gregory (A).
SINGLES ROW: 1. John Ruskey (SH); 2. Erich Wolf (A); 3. Brandon Joyce (W); 4. Shanin Theiss (OC); 5. Chris Vittese (CM).
SURF DASH RELAY: 1. Wildwood Crest (Brett Pederson, Jake Klecko, Jon Burkett, Pat Bakey); 2. Avalon; 3. Ocean City; 4. Stone Harbor; 5. Wildwood.Wildwood Beach Patrol wins county lifeguard championships for first time ever