WILDWOOD CREST - Stone Harbor Beach Patrol Capt. Sandy Bosacco knew his team had the athletes to be a contender at the Cape May County Lifeguard Championships on Friday at Rambler Road beach.
But Stone Harbor had never done enough to win the team title in the previous 28 years of the event.
All that changed starting in race three as Stone Harbor rookie Sean McCall won the swim, teammate Tim Hayes followed by taking the run-swim and veteran oarsman Darrick Kobierowski scored a close victory in the singles row.
Stone Harbor won the team championship with 24 points. Ocean City, the two-time defending champion, won the first two races and finished second with 21 team points. Sea Isle City was a distant third with 12 points.
"We made a good showing here the last two years (second in 2010 and third last year) but today they put it together," Bosacco said. "I"m especially proud of them. We have a young, hard-working patrol. The races are great for training for the things they do on the job. Fitness is at the core of lifeguarding."
The swim begins and ends with a run. McCall won his first career lifeguard race by less than than 2 yards over North Wildwood's Sean Regan with a sprint to the line. McCall is a La Salle University swimmer who competed for Gloucester Catholic High School.
"It's great to win the team title," said McCall, 20, of Wenonah in Gloucester County. "This was a great experience. Everyone on our team was really excited and we pulled together. We did it as a whole patrol."
Hayes, a former University of Virginia swimmer, was third after the run leg of the run-swim and he took the lead before the halfway point of the swim leg. It was his first win at the county event.
"I've gotten a lot of second places here, so it's good to win," said Hayes, 23. of Allentown, Pa. "I was happy to get through the run. I've never ran more than a mile-and-a-half at a time the last two months."
Kobierowski edged defending singles row champion Erich Wolf of Avalon by two seconds in a close finish in the surf. Kobierowski, 37, has been a lifeguard for 18 years.
"We've been close a lot of years in this race and we wanted to seal the deal tonight," said Kobierowski, a Wildwood Crest resident.
Ocean City's Dylan Kosten and Matt Garbutt won the doubles row over Kobierowski and partner Dennis Bakey. Garbutt, 36, now has 10 county championships wins, including nine in doubles.
"I rowed with all my brothers, and Dylan is a young guy who's making a name for himself," said Garbutt, an O.C. resident. "This keeps you young."
Ocean City's Matt Rinck took the lead as the paddleboarders came to shore near the end of the rescue board race. The run gave him a 16-second win over Sea Isle City's Jeff Buyse.
Upper Township's Pat Curran gave his patrol the lead at the start of the surf dash, and teammates Dan Palombo, Jim Dugan and Ford Palmer made it a nine-second win.
Contact Guy Gargan:
1. Stone Harbor 24; 2. Ocean City 21; 3. Sea Isle City 12; 4. Avalon 11; 5. North Wildwood 9; 6. Upper Township 9 (North Wildwood had a better finish in the doubles row, the South Jersey Chiefs Association tiebreaker.); 7. Wildwood Crest 8; 8. Wildwood 1; Cape May 1; Cape May Point did not score.
Ocean City (Dylan Kosten-Matt Garbutt) 10:13; 2. Stone Harbor (Darrick Kobierowski-Dennis Bakey) 10:18; 3. Sea Isle City (Kyle Erlandson-Pat Scannapieco) 10:22; 4. Wildwood Crest (Brendan Cunningham-Terry McGovern) 10:31; 5. Wildwood (Tom McLaughlin-Steve McGuinn) 10:33.
Rescue board race
1. Matt Rinck, Ocean City 7:01; 2. Jeff Buyse, Sea Isle City 7:17; 3. Scott Wandell, Wildwood Crest 7:20; 4. Kurt Kircher, Stone Harbor 7:23; 5. Matt Hurley, Avalon 7:35.
1. Sean McCall, Stone Harbor 11:09; 2. Sean Regan, North Wildwood 11:12; 3. Blake Trabuchi-Downey, Sea Isle City 11:33; 4. Ian Keyser, Avalon 11:53; 5. Lukas Filarski, Ocean City 11:55.
1. Tim Hayes, Stone Harbor 15:35; 2. William Brown, Avalon 15:46; 3. Nolan Coyle, Ocean City 15:51; 4. Gabe Keown, Wildwood Crest 15:55; 5. Dan Widtfelt, Cape May 16:58.
1. Darrick Kobierowski, Stone Harbor 4:16; 2. Erich Wolf, Avalon 4:128; 3. Pat Curran, Upper Township 4:22; 4. Dylan Kosten, Ocean City 4:23; 5. Marty Hagen, North Wildwood 4:24.
1. Upper Township (Pat Curran, Dan Palombo, Jim Dugan, Ford Palmer) 2:23; 2. North Wildwood 2:32; 3. Ocean City 2:33; 4. Wildwood Crest 2:38; 5. Sea Isle City 2:38.