WILDWOOD CREST - Ocean City Beach Patrol oarsman Dylan Kosten powered through a rough ocean in the singles row to give his patrol the team title at the Cape May County Lifeguard Championships on Friday.

Kosten got a good start and rowed to a big lead. As the current took the boats in a northern direction, Kosten had a big lead on the way in and won the 1,000-foot race in 5 minutes, 57 seconds.

The win gave Ocean City the needed six points to clinch its 14th team championship in the 30 years of the event.

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"It feels good to win it (the team title). It's a nice window to the rest of the season to see where we're at," said Kosten, 24, a Woodbine resident.

"It felt great to win the race because I've been sick the last three or four weeks."

Kosten's win gave Ocean City six points and a winning total of 21. O.C. didn't score in the surf dash, the final race of six, but still held on to beat Wildwood Crest, which was second with 18 points. Avalon won the surf dash and finished with 16 points for third place.

"We always like coming here to this event, because it shows a couple different lifeguard skills, not just the usual rowing and swimming," Ocean City Beach Patrol Chief Tom Mullineaux said. "It was a great win for us, a good way to start the season."

Ocean City's other win was by Brian Pasternak in the rescue-board race. It was the first lifeguard race for the 6-foot-5 Pasternak, a 29-year-old rookie lifeguard. He was a basketball player at Moorestown High School, graduating in 2001.

The rescue-board race and the swim had the same three-quarter-mile box course in the ocean, and both began and ended with a 200-yard run.

Pasternak and Kevin Kelly of the Crest were about even coming out of the water, but the O.C. guard sprinted to a 10-yard victory in 8:15.

"Lifeguarding is something I wanted to try," said Pasternak, an Ocean City resident. "I surf all the time. It feels to good to win. I was nervous at first. I was behind but after the first turn I had the lead. I run a decent amount. It was nice finish at the end."

Wildwood Crest's Steve Tarnowski won the swim as the enthusiastic home crowd cheered. Tarnowski, of Germany, finished the swim leg in first place and won by 25 yards after the run.

"I used to be our second swimmer (after John Maloy)," said Tarnowski, 21, a rising senior swimmer at The College of New Jersey. "I watched John win this, and it was nice to step up and win it too."

Avalon got wins by the veteran doubles crew of Erich Wolf and Craig Whitehead, and by the surf-dash team of Matt Wolf (Erich's brother), Dylan Hughes, Brett Fitzpatrick and Jacob Enright.

The crew of Wolf and Whitehead were battling Wildwood Crest's Brendan Cunningham and Terry McGovern in the surf at the end, but the Crest boat went sideways on a wave and Avalon rowed to the win.

Cape May's Rob Moran took the run/swim in 18:18.

"I did this two years ago and got fifth," said Moran, 24, a Haddonfield resident. "I was sixth or seventh after the run. I worked out a lot this winter. I had no clue I was in the lead until my patrol guys told me when I got out of the water."

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