MARGATE — A choppy ocean couldn’t stop Margate from winning its third straight team title at its own Margate Beach Patrol World War II Memorial Lifeguard Races on Friday.
At the Decatur Avenue beach, Margate started the evening with a victory by Chuck Gowdy and Chris Graves in the doubles row, and the home patrol scored well in the other two races to win.
It was Gowdy’s ninth rowing victory, including singles, at the Margate Memorials, tying him with Ashton Funk (Margate) and the late Richard “Boomer” Blair (Atlantic City) for the most in the event’s 72-year history.
Margate’s Amber Glenn led most of the way in the swim race and finished second. Gowdy returned to place third in the singles row for the clinching points.
With the scoring 5-4-3-2-1 for the first five places, Margate won with 12 points. Longport, which got a win by Mike McGrath in the singles row, finished second with 10 points, and Ventnor placed third with six.
Avalon also scored six points, but Ventnor had a higher finish in the doubles row, the South Jersey Chiefs Association tiebreaker.
“It’s great to win three in a row, and it’s really hard to do,” Margate Beach Patrol Chief Greg Smallwood said. “Chuck is the guy you want when it’s on the line. He and Chris are having a strong season. With our rowers and swimmers, we always have a chance.”
Gowdy and Graves won the Margate Memorials doubles race for the third straight year and took first in the doubles for the fourth straight time this season.
They won the doubles in 14 minutes, 16 seconds, 10 seconds ahead of second-place David Funk and Mike Holland of Ventnor. Longport’s McGrath and Sean Duffey were third, seven seconds behind Ventnor.
“It’s an honor to get my ninth win,” said Gowdy, 34. “The doubles was like a horse race, really tough between us, Ventnor and Longport. In conditions like that, it’s anyone’s race, and we were lucky to get the win.”
Wildwood Crest’s Jon Burkett won the swim for his first ocean race victory against other patrols. Burkett caught a wave in the surf at the end of the swim, got up first and ran to the finish line on the beach to win in 13:31.
Burkett, a Shawnee High School graduate, is a rising junior for the University of Michigan swim team. He specializes in the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly and 100 backstroke for the Wolverines.
“It feels amazing to win,” said Burkett, 20. “I’ve been second and third before. I’ve been training through the other races, and I’m starting to taper (rest for added speed) for the (South Jersey Championships).
“Amber was ahead of me the whole race, and I got lucky and passed her on a wave.”
Glenn was cheered on by the home crowd, and she knew the four points she earned for Margate would be important.
“I was really excited today, and everybody on the patrol was hyping me up,” said Glenn, 18, a former Ocean City High School standout who is a rising sophomore for the Penn State swim team. “I felt really good before the races. It was great to get points for the team and good to represent the girls. Last year, I was fourth (in the Margate Memorials), and I was hoping to win (Friday), but I’m happy to get second.”
McGrath won by one second over Avalon’s Erich Wolf in the singles row, in 5:24. Gowdy was only a second behind Wolf.
“I didn’t see some of the other boats in the races. I focused on the boats that were around me,” said McGrath, 31. “Chuck was leading on the way in, and I caught a wave and got even. Later, I got a little bump (wave) at the end that helped me get across the line. You focus on getting strokes on the waves you catch. It was close between the three of us.”
Note: The last of the season’s Big 3 events, the South Jersey Championships, are next Friday in Longport.
1. Margate 12; 2. Longport 10; 3. Ventnor 6: 4. Avalon 6; 5. Wildwood Crest 5; 6. Sea Isle City 3; 7. Upper Township 1; 8. (tie) Ocean City and Atlantic City 1 (Ocean City and Atlantic City did not score in the doubles row, the tiebreaker.).
Mile doubles row
1. Margate (Chuck Gowdy-Chris Graves) 14:16; 2. Ventnor (David Funk-Mike Holland) 14:26; 3. Longport (Mike McGrath-Sean Duffey) 14:33; 4. Avalon (Jake Enright-Matt Wolf) 14:35; 5. Upper Township (Kyle Rumaker-Ryan Fisher) 15:01.
1. Jon Burkett, Wildwood Crest 13:31; 2. Amber Glenn, Margate 13:45; 3. Conall Loughlin, Sea Isle City 13:50; 4. John Tepper, Longport 14:00; 5. Quinn Cassidy, Ocean City 14:08.
1,000-foot singles row
1. Mike McGrath, Longport 5:24; 2. Erich Wolf, Avalon 5:25; 3. Chuck Gowdy, Margate 5:26; 4. David Funk, Ventnor 5:30; 5. Vince Granese, Atlantic City 5:32.