NORTH WILDWOOD — Jon Burkett was a double winner to lead the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol to the team title at the 50th annual Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races on Friday night.
Burkett won the surf dash with Pat Bakey, Jake Klecko and Nathan Belisario. He returned two races later to win the can run, a one-man surf dash in which the guards each carry a rescue can. Burkett was also second in the ocean swim.
Wildwood Crest also got a win from Kevin Kelly in the rescue board race and scored 20 points to take the championship. Avalon, with two wins by rower Erich Wolf, took second with 13 points. The host North Wildwood patrol got a win from rookie Luke Snyder in the swim and was third in team scoring with nine points.
“Doing three races was a lot of fun, though it was physically challenging,” said Burkett, 21, a University of Michigan swimmer and a Shawnee High School graduate. “There was a lot of great competition. It was my first time doing the can run. The 100 butterfly is my best event (in pool swimming), and it takes about 45 seconds, just like the can run.”
The event, held at the 15th Avenue beach, consisted of six races: a doubles row, ocean swim, rescue-board race, surf dash, singles row and can run. Scoring was 5-3-2-1 for the first four finishers in each event.
Kelly won the rescue board race by three seconds in 6 minutes, 4 seconds, beating Sea Isle City’s Trevor Tuthill by 15 yards in a race to the line after they came ashore.
“I went all out,” said Kelly, 27. ‘I got the lead between the flags (on the backstretch of the box-coursed race). I got a good wave coming in.”
Wolf combined with brother Matt Wolf to win the doubles row. Both are accomplished rowers, but Friday’s win was their first together against other patrols.
“We’ve rowed together a few times over the years, but we never won a race outside of Avalon together,” said Matt Wolf, 34.
Erich Wolf returned to easily win the singles row. He was leading on the way back to shore and caught a great wave that made him a 17-second winner in 4:42.
“It was a good ride in,” said Wolf, 32. “As soon as I turned the (halfway flag), I positioned myself to get (a wave), and I was glad I found it.”
Snyder, a rising sophomore swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania, was in only his second ocean swim race. The 19-year-old West Deptford resident was a standout swimmer for St. Augustine Prep. Snyder won by 15 seconds over Burkett in 8:27.
“It feels really good to win. This is the one I really wanted to win,” said Snyder, who got a big roar from the home crowd at the awards ceremony. “It’s the 50th anniversary, and everyone has been hyping it. Ocean racing is a lot different. I paced myself well today.”
Notes: The event, first held in 1969, honors Jim Beschen and Mike Callahan. The North Wildwood lifeguards were killed in the Vietnam War. ... Defending champion Sea Isle City finished last in the seven-team field with four points.
Wildwood Crest, 20 points; Avalon 13; North Wildwood 9; Wildwood 8; Upper Township 7; Stone Harbor 5; Sea Ise City 4.
1. Avalon (Erich Wolf-Matt Wolf) 5:22; 2. Upper Township (Ryan Fischer-Kyle Rumaker) 5:35; 3. Wildwood (Brandon Joyce-Steve McGuinn) 5:47.
1. Luke Snyder, North Wildwood 8:27; 2. Jon Burkett, Wildwood Crest 8:42; 3. Brendan Lewis, Wildwood 9:02.
Rescue board race
1. Kevin Kelly, Wildwood Crest 6:04; 2. Trevor Tuthill, Sea Isle City 6:07; 3. Gaige Bobbitt, Upper Township 6:19.
1. Wildwood Crest (Pat Bakey, Jake Klecko, Nathan Belisario, Jon Burkett) 2:40; 2. Avalon 2:41; 3. Stone Harbor 2:44 .
1. Erich Wolf, Avalon 4:42; 2. Brandon Joyce, Wildwood 4:59; 3. Jake Klecko, Wildwood Crest 5:08.
1. Jon Burkett, Wildwood Crest 1:03; 2. Kiernan McVan, Stone Harbor 1:09; 3. Stephen Cassel, North Wildwood 1:11.