VENTNOR - Atlantic City lifeguards Macey Miller and Mallory Sykes scored a powerful 20-yard victory in the doubles row at the Cape Atlantic Women's Lifeguard Invitational on Wednesday.
The win became even bigger once the evening's four races were completed.
The Atlantic City Beach Patrol tied Ocean City in points with 12 apiece, but A.C. won the team championship at the 18th annual event because a higher finish in the doubles row breaks ties in South Jersey Lifeguard Chiefs Association events.
The Atlantic City win, its first since 2005 in the event, prevented Ocean City from sweeping the three traditional women's events of the season. O.C. won the Longport Women's Lifeguard Invitational and the Ocean City Beach Patrol Women's Invitational.
"Our female athletes work very hard and they were up for the races today," said Rod Aluise, the Atlantic City Beach Patrol chief. "We knew we had to score points in the surf dash (the last race), but we had the edge with the doubles row win to break a tie. Macey Miller really stood out, being in three events."
Following the doubles row, Miller returned to get second by half a boatlength to Cape May veteran Patrice Back in an exciting singles row. Miller also teamed with Ayana Cox, Teresa Stearns and Andrea Williams to give Atlantic City third place in the surf dash.
Miller, 21, rows for Syracuse University.
When asked if she conserved any energy to pace herself, Miller replied that she "went for it all three times."
"Winning the first race took the pressure off a little," she said. "I knew there was a lot of good competition in the singles. It feels good to win (the championship). We've been practicing things a lot. This is the best we've done this year."
Two other sweep attempts were successful. Ocean City's Erin Curry won her third straight swim, and the Wildwood Crest team of Ann Marie Kelly, Christina Caroulis, Leeny Tarnowski and Rose Brenner took its third surf dash. Curry and the Crest team also won at the Longport and Ocean City Invitationals.
Curry, who swims for Liberty University, held off a challenge by Sea Isle City's Madison Meyer to win by about 7 yards.
"It felt great to win," said Curry, 19. "After (the races at) Longport and Ocean City, I wanted to get the third one. It's awesome to have the trifecta. Bill Dorney (a senior Ocean City lifeguard and coach) has been training me since May, and he really knows the water. Our team put a great effort together."
The Crest surf-dash team beat Ocean City by 5 yards.
"It's awesome to get a sweep," said Tarnowski, 20. "We had such a great year. Coming into this, we had a little more pep in our step. We didn't just assume that we were going to win. We gave it 110 percent."
Brenner, the anchor, is a former swimmer at Lower Cape May Regional High School and Rider University.
"I've been doing the surf dash all 12 years I've been with the patrol," said Brenner, 27. "There have been times we've won two (races), but this is the first time we've swept."
The crowd gave a big cheer during the singles row for Back, a 41-year-old mother of two who is still an outstanding rower for Cape May. She had a slight lead on Miller as they approached the surf, and rode a small wave to a two-second win in 3 minutes, 40 seconds.
Earlier, Back and partner Mary Grace Maggiano finished second in the doubles. Back is in her 21st year as a Cape May lifeguard.
"The announcer called out that it's the 18th annual for this, and I've been here all 18 years," Back said.
Contact Guy Gargan:
Team scoring (Scoring was 5-4-3-2-1 for the first five places.)
1. Atlantic City 12; 2. Ocean City 12; 3. Cape May 10; 4. Ventnor 9; 5. Sea Isle City 9; 6. Wildwood Crest 5; 7. Avalon 2; 8. Stone Harbor 1; Wildwood, Brigantine, Margate, Longport and Upper Township did not score.
1. Atlantic City (Macey Miller-Mallory Sykes) 13:20; 2. Cape May (Patrice Back-Mary Grace Maggiano) 13:47; 3. Ventnor (Meghan Holland-Paige Howarth) 13:53; 4. Sea Isle City (Alicia Bell-Becky Lederer) 14:05; 5. Ocean City (Rachel Boudart-Emma Elmer) 14:24.
Swim (No times kept)
1. Erin Curry, Ocean City; 2. Madison Meyer, Sea Isle City; 3. Shannon Howarth, Ventnor; 4. Rebecca Hannings, Avalon; 5. Kerry Choplin, Cape May.
1. Patrice Back, Cape May 3:40; 2. Macey Miller, Atlantic City 3:42; 3. Meghan Holland, Ventnor 3:44; 4. Shawnee Foglio, Ocean City 3:47; 5. Ashleigh Dinan, Sea Isle City 3:51.
Surf dash (No times kept)
1. Wildwood Crest (Ann Marie Kelly, Christina Caroulis, Leeny Tarnowski, Rose Brenner); 2. Ocean City; 3. Atlantic City; 4. Sea Isle City; 5. Stone Harbor.