2000 in Review:|
North Wildwood Three-peats at County Lifeguard Championships
By JOHN MURRAY
WILDWOOD CREST - The North Wildwood Beach Patrol's race for an unprecedented third consecutive Cape May County lifeguard Championship last Friday in Wildwood Crest unfolded much like the story of the tortoise and the hare.
You remember the story. The entire race, the slow-footed reptile appeared to be, a step behind his more agile opponent, but, through perseverance and against all odds, the tortoise ended up in the winner's circle.
Like the tortoise, North Wildwood wasn't expected to win Friday's 17th annual county lifeguard meet, but despite just one first place finish in six of the race's events, Chief Tony Cavalier's team also ended up in the winner's circle, edging hard charging host Wildwood Crest at the finish 19 points to 18, to gain the three-peat.
"Everyone wrote us off. We had a lot of new faces this year" Cavalier said. "I wasn't sure what we were going to do. We had some new blood, guys that never rowed together. (Rescue boarder Lou) Ostrander -that's the first time he's ever raced.
Cape May Beach Patrol was more like the hare. Penciled in as the pre-race favorite, Cape May was the fastest of the 10 competing patrols out of the gate, winning the night's first two events.
The Cape's three-time doubles-rowing champions Kevin Murphy and Jim Wadlow - they won in. 1995, '96 and '97 - turned back the clock to edge Wildwood Crest's Matt Bilkins and Bic Murphy - last year's doubles champions 13:04.2 to 13:07.6.
Murphy and Wadlow had to shake off some rust and a lost oar to win the event.
"We hadn't raced together in the last two years so we wanted to stay with the pack and pace ourselves," said Wadlow, who acknowledged that Murphy snapped an oar in half as the crew's were heading out to the mid-race marker. " (Losing the oar) dropped us back but we didn't panic. We got back in it, rounded the marker first and just tried to hold the other boats off to the finish.
On the heels of the doubles event was the rescue board race. Cape May's Bob Cornell overtook North Wildwood's Ostrander coming out of the water and he sprinted to the finish line in 8:32 to give Cape May, a sizeable lead.
"I was in second pretty much the whole (race) I was just trying to hold back and just draft off (Ostrander)," said Cornell, who won the event in 1997 and '98 "I caught (Ostrander) in the gully.He tripped. I guess I just got real lucky,"
With North Wildwood's, two-time defending swim champion Bill Auty not on the patrol this summer, Cape May's two quick wins opened the door for its four-time swim champion Geoff Rife to pad the lead. However, Rife mistakenly turned for shore at the wrong flag and was disqualified.
North Wildwood's Nick Macko captured the event and six crucial points. From there, Cape May lost hold of its early momentum, eventually slipping back with the pack in the overall points race.
Bolstered by Macko's triumph, a fifth-place finish, in the doubles row from the team of Tom Ogden and Pat Murray and Ostrander's third place rescue board finish, North Wildwood quietly began to close the points gap, between itself and Cape May. The gap was just a point,
13 for the Cape to 12 each for North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest after the next event, the run-swim, won by Stone Harbor's Rob Lythgoe, who finished with a time of 14:54. For Lythgoe, his third attempt at a county run-swim title proved to be the charm after finishing third in 1998 and second last year to Macko.
Lythgoe shadowed North Wildwood's Rich Bostwick, a former collegiate cross country champion, during the two-mile run portion of the event. Bostwick entered the water with Lythgoe right on his heels. Once in the water, however, Lythgoe made his move and took control of the race.
"(Bostwick) is a really good runner. I just wanted to stay with him until we got into the water," Lythgoe said. "Even if (Bostwick) got into the water ahead of me, I was hoping I would be able to catch him. From there, my plan was, hopefully, to hold off the rest of the swimmers."
The Stone Harbor guard more than held his own in the water, finishing almost a full minute ahead of Alan O'Connor of the Wildwood Beach Patrol. Wildwood Crest's Murphy and Bostwick finished third and fourth, respectively, to add to their teams' overall point totals.
The singles row proved to be the most tightly contested event of the meet with Avalon's Craig Whitehead, North Wildwood's Romolo Forcino and Wildwood's Ed Schneider all finishing within two seconds of each other. Whitehead crossed the finished line first in 5:27:04, Forcino crossed just a fraction of a second later at 5:28.19 and Schneider was third at 5:29.17.
Despite not winning the race, Forcino's four point effort gave North Wildwood a 16-14 lead over Cape May, which earned its last point of the meet on the fifth-place finish of rower Ed Mogck. .
Seeking to win its first county crown since 1985 on home sand, Wildwood Crest made things very interesting by claiming the surf-dash relay, the meet's final event.
After leadoff man Terry McGovern's good start, Tim Fager blew through the second leg to give Wildwood Crest a lead which John Way and anchorman Mike Murphy held to the finish.
North Wildwood's team of Steve Delmonte, Ostrander, Steve Connor and Brendan Gibson clinched their patrol's fourth title in seven years by nudging past Avalon's team of Jay Hurley,
Jay Jordan, Kevin Momenee and Erich Wolf for third place. North Wildwood's finishing time was 2:04.05 to Avalon's 2:05.42.
After the post-race awards presentations, a very emotional Cavalier talked about the finish and his team's performance.
"The last two years we won three events and I figured we had to win three again. We win one event and we still win it," the chief said shaking his head.
"Every event we were there, We had new faces. Four guys out of nine didn't come back (this summer). I'm just so proud of these guys. This is definitely our biggest (county championship win) to me."
NWBP Maintains Dominance of Beschen-Callahan's (wins 8th straight)
By JOHN MURRAY
NORTH WILDWOOD - For the second time in 10 days the North Wildwood Beach Patrol showed its competition that its not how you start but how you finish the race.
North Wildwood captured the final three events of the 32nd annual Beschen-Callahan Memorial Races to overtake early front-runners Cape May and Wildwood Crest and claim its eighth consecutive Beschen-Callahan title, July 18, at the 15th Street beach.
Brendan Gibson capped North Wildwood's worst-to-first comeback by winning the race's final event the can run. Gibson has dominated the event in recent years. This year's win gave the 25 year-old life guard four can run titles in the last five years.
With this year's title hanging in the balance, Gibson went wire-to-wire for the win, edging out Cape May's Ed Zebrowski, who provided a dramatic finish with a diving attempt at the tape. Gibson broke the tape with a time of 1 minute, 28 seconds. Zebrowski closed right on Gibson's heels at 1:29.17.
Heading into the final event, North Wildwood held a two point lead over Cape May and Wildwood Crest. A Zebrowski win would have given the Cape beach patrol the title. North Wildwood chief Tony Cavalier said he approached Gibson before the start of the event to let the husky, young guard know what was at stake.
"I walked up to (Gibson) and I told him the, title rested on him,". the North Wildwood chief said. "I just said, 'you're the man, bring it home.' Out of the four years he competed in the can, he had won three times. That's why I put the pressure on him."
Gibson appears to thrive on it. "A lot of it for me is mental. Knowing the conditions and the, other competitors every year. Otherwise, you deal with the cards your dealt," the defending champion said. "Basically, it comes down to who wants it more."
The pressure, was, on North Wildwood to make something happen as it approached the surf-dash event trailing Cape May by six points in the overall point-race. However, the host beach patrol's fortunes turned on Gibson's powerful sprint through the surf.
"Brendan just exploded through the water. He looked like he was walking on water. He gave us a 20-yard lead," Cavalier said. "North Wildwood has always been known for great surf-dash teams. In all my years with the beach patrol, I consider Brendan one of the best to ever compete for us."
Lew Ostrander and anchorman Steve Connor made the lead stand to give North Wildwood its first win of the night and cut Cape May's overall lead to two points.
The surf-dash win ignited the entire North Wildwood squad. Nick Macko and Tim Dwyer followed with a one-two finish for the team in the run-swim event, while Rich Bostwick finished fourth. Macko, who won the swim at the county championships, finished a second faster than Dwyer at 13:38. Wildwood Crest's Bic Murphy finished third at 13:42.
Describing his victory, Macko said experience and staying with his race plan were what enabled him to pace North Wildwood's second win of the night.
"My strongest event is the swim. I let the top runners get ahead of me. I just paced myself but stayed within striking distance of the leaders. Once I hit the water I was, able to catch them pretty quickly," Macko said. "It's all about experience. Before the race, we go over the conditions, walk the course, look for holes and take all those factors into consideration."
Cape May provided the early fireworks. In what looked like a replay, of the start of the county championships, July 7, in Wildwood Crest, the Cape team bolted to an early lead by winning the doubles row and the rescue board.
The 2000 county doubles champions, Jim Wadlow and Kevin Murphy, once again showed why they were such an effective team throughout the 1990's, rowing to a 15-second victory over their chief competitors, Max Bilkins and Bic Murphy, of the Crest. The Cape pair crossed the line in 13 minutes and 5l seconds to Bilkins' and Murphy's 14:06 finish. Wildwood's Steve McGuinn and Mike Regan finished just behind the Crest pair at 14:08.
As he bad at the county race, Cape May's Bob Cornell took the rescue board event. Cornell left the competition in his wake with a 6:09.89 effort. Wildwood Crest's John Way took second with a time of 6:26. Geoff Rife kept the wins coming for Cape May by outdueling Macko to the tape in the, swim event. Rife crossed the finish line in 9:42, just edging Wacko's time of 9:43. However, Cape May could not capitalize on Rife's performance because, unlike the county format, the Beschen-Callahan scoring system rewards each beach patrol for how it performs each event as a team. Led by Chris Gamble's third place finish, Wildwood Crest won the event even though it didn't place another swimmer among the top-four finishers. Murphy, Josh Irons and Ian McGarry combined with Gamble to give the Crest the five, first place points and a short-lived lead in the overall points standings.
Wadlow recaptured the overall lead for Cape May with another win in the singles row. The powerful Cape rower went wire-to-wire in 6:04, beating out North Wildwood's Romolo Forcino, who was clocked at 6:13. Wadlow said the key to. both wins was a fast start, a. little luck with the waves and the current, and a lot of hard work to hold off the other rowers down the back stretch. Wadlow attempted to put the success he and his partner - Wadlow and Kevin Murphy won doubles titles in '95-96 and '97 - have had into perspective. "We're (Wadlow-Murphy) not super rowers. They're all great rowers. I'm not trying to down-play anything but Murph just gave me a really good push at the start of the (singles) race," a modest Wadlow said. "We had great starts in both (the doubles, and singles) races and that was a big key for us.
Unfortunately for the visitors from the Cape, they faded into the shadow of North Wildwood's late charge. The host team outscored Cape May over the final three events 15-5 to maintain its lock on the Beschen-Callahan crown.
Gibson said the key to his team's dominance of the Beschen-Callahan is that each year, there's simply more at stake for North Wildwood.
"This lifeguard race is different than any other in the world, not only because of the top competition but because it's in honor of two fallen veterans," he said. "I know that every time I go out there they are with me. I just want the families to know that. I know that's how every member of this beach patrol feels. It's just an honor to compete in their names."
The Beschen-Callahan race was created in 1969 to honor two former North Wildwood lifeguards, Jim Beschen and Mike Callahan, who were both killed while serving with US armed forces in Vietnam.
"The families give out the trophies. It's very emotional for them. They've been, coming for 32 years. It's not easy for them,", said Cavalier.
North Wildwood Has Its Fun at Kerr Memorial Races
The North Wildwood Beach Patrol Wins the Championship with a Partial Squad
by GUY GARGAN
for The Press
AVALON - The North Wildwood Beach Patrol got a victory from Nick Macko in the swim and scored in every other race Monday to win the David J. Kerr Memorial Lifeguard Races.
North Wildwood totaled 15 points, while host Avalon got a win by doubles rowers John Glomb and Craig Whitehead and took second overall with nine points. Stone Harbor's Darrick Craig Keenan, Rob Lythgoe and Darrick Kobierowski won the iron man relay, and their patrol also finished with nine points. Avalon gets second by virtue of the South Jersey Chiefs Association tiebreaker, a higher finish in the doubles row.
Scoring in all five races of a beach patrol event is hard enough with eight teams competing, but it's more outstanding considering the Kerr Memorials' odd scoring system of 5-3-1 where only the top three places get points. North Wildwood's win was even more unlikely since it brought only part of its team.
Each team could enter three doubles crews, but North Wildwood brought only one. The patrol had only Tom Ogden in the singles row, where three could be entered. The team also had only one iron man relay team, while most of the patrols entered two.
"We came here with the attitude to have fun, and we had fun and won so it worked out well," North Wildwood Beach Patrol Lieutenant Bill Ciavarelli said. "We only brought a few guys but it was our strongest team. Each man was concentrating on his one event, Tom Ogden was the only guy who did two for us, and he stepped up big for us. When we scored in the rows, that was big for us."
In the swim, Macko swam about 20 yards north of the finish line on the beach, while Stone Harbor's Andrew Goetz and Avalon's Todd Binkowski were on course but a few yards behind. Macko got up and sprinted to a 20-yard win over Goetz, while Binkowski trailed Goetz by 15 more yards.
The 19-year-old Macko is a Philadelphia resident, but attends Ottawa University in Canada.
"I didn't really want that (going off-course) to happen but the current was really strong," Macko said. "There aren't really any landmarks on shore to look at (in order to stay on course). I figured it was better to swim with the current rather than to fight it."
Avalon's new top crew of John Glomb and Craig Whitehead, upset winners at the Dutch Hoffman Memorials and second in the Margate Memorials, had no problem Monday. Glomb and Whitehead led by four boatlengths entering the tricky surf at 35th Street. They caught a wave that propelled them to a six-boatlength win. North Wildwood's Ogden and Pat Murray barely edged Max Bilkins and Bick Murphy for second.
"Craig and I started out the year rowing with different partners," bowman Glomb said. "We felt great tonight. We felt good the other night (when they were a close second at the Margate's on Friday) but ocean rowing is about waves. Things went our way tonight. It's nice to win, especially on our home turf."
Glomb also got second to Brigantine's Paul Savell in the singles row. Many in the crowd were watching Glomb beat Ogden by less than a half-boatlength at the north end of the beach, but Savell at the other end was actually the winner.
"On the way in I could see Avalon (Glomb) and Rob (Savell's doubles rowing partner Rob Canavan in another Brigantine boat)," Savell said. "But they sheered on the wave and I was able to take it straight in. After the wave, I only had to take one more stroke (to reach the finish line)."
The iron man relay is a race with three-man teams where a first guard swims 500 feet, a second runs a half-mile, and a final competitor does a 1,000-foot singles row. Several singles rowers had a chance to win in the final leg as the current pulled all the boats to the north end of the beach. Everyone seemed to have great difficulty, but Kobierowski nipped Romolo Forcino of North Wildwood.
Wildwood Crest's Terry Mc-Govern, John Way, Tim Capra, Tim Fager And Mike Murphy rallied to edge North Wildwood in the surf dash. The high-stepping Murphy, a former Penn State University hurdler, gave the Crest a final burst for the win.
1. North Wildwood, 15; 2. Avalon, 9; 3. Stone Harbor, 9; 4. Wildwood Crest, 7; 5. Brigantine, 5; Upper Township, Sea Isle City, and Wildwood did not score.
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