MARGATE - While others took the spotlight with victories, rower Dylan Kosten of the Ocean City Beach Patrol became the central figure of the 72nd annual South Jersey Lifeguard Championships at the Decatur Avenue beach on Friday.
Kosten finished second in the 1-mile doubles row with partner Matt Garbutt, and Kosten also took second place in an exciting quarter-mile singles row that ended the evening.
With the scoring system at 5-4-3-2-1 points for the first five places, Ocean City's two second-place finishes won the team championship with eight points. Defending champion Margate was one point behind in second place with seven. Avalon also totaled seven points, but Margate's Ashton Funk and Chuck Gowdy won the doubles row, and a better finish in the doubles is the South Jersey Chief Association tiebreaker.
Kosten is a former Holy Spirit High School rower and swimmer who just finished his rowing career at Jacksonville University.
"It's great to win the championship, though I'm a bit disappointed to not win (his races)," Kosten, 22 said. "Little things kept me from winning in the singles, but the team title is the most important thing."
Ocean City leads the Chiefs Association with 33 S.J. Championship team titles, including ties, but it was the first for O.C. since a tie with Ventnor in 2006. The Association voted to break ties for the crown the following year.
Holding the championship trophy, Ocean City Beach Patrol Chief Tom Mullineaux said, "I'm just real happy with our guys who competed. Dylan did a great job. He's an up-and-coming rower. And Matt has experience, and it showed."
Margate started well as Funk and Gowdy won the doubles row by three boatlengths, giving them each seven career wins in the South Jersey event to tie Ventnor's David Funk, Ashton's brother, for the record.
Kosten and stern man Garbutt finished one second ahead of Ventnor's Funk and Mike Tripician, which turned out to be crucial. Garbutt, 35, had only rowed with Kosten for a week as Ocean City made a doubles lineup change late in the season.
"It's great thing to win the title and get to host it next year," Garbutt said. "We matched up pretty well in the boat because we both row singles. Being on Ocean City's patrol is like playing for the Yankees."
Garbutt has been part of four previous O.C. South Jersey team titles. He was ready on short notice.
"Dylan did the Superathon (on July 11) and he has rowed all year, so he's in great shape. I've kept training and I've been in some of the longer rows," he said.
Many watched Ashton Funk in the singles as he tried to become the winningest South Jersey champion, but Avalon's Erich Wolf won a battle to the line with Kosten and the Funk brothers.
It was Wolf's first South Jersey title.
"My thoughts go back to when I was a little kid and my father (Avalon patrol chief Murray Wolf) first taught me to row in the back bay at 57th Street (in Avalon)," Wolf said. "It's an incredible feeling to win."
Wildwood Crest's John Maloy easily won his fourth South Jersey swim title in the past five years. Maloy powered to shore well ahead of the pack and won by 57 seconds in 15:28. Cape May's Tom Medvecky was second, five seconds ahead of Sea Isle City's Blake Trabuchi-Downey.
"I was nervous because I didn't know where anyone was," Maloy, 22, said. "I didn't see anyone as I was coming in. Sometimes you don't see where people are. That just pushed me harder. I saw my brother (Joe) and I knew I was in a good spot by the way he was jumping."
Funk and Gowdy talked about their South Jersey doubles win.
"It's an honor to represent Margate and get number-seven," Gowdy, the stern man, said. "This is the one you think about and train for all year. I wanted Ashton to win (in the singles), but it didn't work out."
Funk had a bad start in the singles, nearly tipping the boat as he got in. "I slipped a little and lost my balance," Funk said.
"I couldn't ask for a better partner than Chuck. He's a great friend and a great partner. I'm a little disappointed, but I feel good. That's boat racing. Hopefully in Ocean City (in 2012), we can bring it back to Margate the next year."
Contact Guy Gargan:
1. Ocean City 8; 2. Margate 7; 3. Avalon 7; 4. Ventnor 6; 5. Sea Isle City 5; 6. Wildwood Crest 5; 7. Cape May 4; 8. Stone Harbor 2; 9. Longport 1; Brigantine, Atlantic City, Upper Township, North Wildwood and Wildwood did not score.
11/2-MILE DOUBLES ROW
1. Margate (Ashton Funk-Chuck Gowdy) 14:20; 2. Ocean City (Dylan Kosten-Matt Garbutt) 14:27; 3. Ventnor (David Funk-Mike Tripician) 14:28; 4. Avalon (Craig Whitehead-Shane McGrath) 14:37; 5. Sea Isle City (Colin Corcoran-Pat Scannapieco) 14:44.
1. John Maloy, Wildwood Crest 15:28; 2. Tom Medvecky, Cape May 16:25; 3. Blake Trabuchi-Downey, Sea Isle City 16:30; 4. Tim Hayes, Stone Harbor 16:31; 5. Bobby Ballance, Longport 16:34.
QUARTER-MILE SINGLES ROW
1. Erich Wolf, Avalon 4:20; 2. Dylan Kosten, Ocean City 4:23; 3. David Funk, Ventnor 4:25; 4. Ashton Funk, Margate 4:26; 5. Chris DeFoney, Sea Isle City 4:28.