South Jersey Lifeguard Championships

Joey Tepper of Longport places first in swim races at South Jersey Lifeguard Championships in Longport, Friday Aug 9, 2019. Edward Lea Staff Photographer / Press of Atlantic City

Relying on the same lineup as it used last year, the Longport Beach Patrol once again is The Press South Jersey Lifeguard Team of the Year.

“It’s really an honor for our whole squad,” Longport Beach Patrol Chief Matt Kelm said. “When you look at the quality of lifeguards on the South Jersey patrols, to receive (Team of the Year) for the second year is an honor and humbling.”

Swimmer Joey Tepper won every big race of the season, and rowers Mike McGrath and Sean Duffey kept Longport on top.

Longport, led by Tepper’s win in the swim, won its fourth straight team title at the South Jersey Lifeguard Championships on Aug. 9.

The former underdog beach patrol is now the team to beat at every big lifeguard event.

Longport also won the team championship at the Atlantic City Lifeguard Classic and the Margate Beach Patrol World War II Memorial Lifeguard Races, two of the other three standard South Jersey events in which all the beach patrols compete. The other event, the Dutch Hoffman Memorial Lifeguard Championships, was won by Atlantic City.

“I think one of the most admirable things about our athletes was their level of consistency. We were going up against Hall of Fame rowers in the rowing,” Kelm said.

“When you consider the Red Bull (a non-South Jersey relay event with swimming, paddleboarding and rowing), we were going up against all those patrols from Long Beach Island and the ones up north. To be as consistent as our athletes are is no easy task when dealing with ocean conditions,” he said.

“Most important is what we all in South Jersey do every day, keep people safe.”

The Press Lifeguard All-Stars began last year with a point system for the four top events, as well as for the two women’s events in which South Jersey’s key races — the doubles row, the swim and the singles row — are held. The Longport Women’s Lifeguard Invitational and the Bill Howarth Women’s Lifeguard Invitational each have those three races.

The scoring is 5-2-1 for the first three places in team scoring, the doubles, swim and singles at three of the coed events and the two women’s events. The exception is the South Jersey Championships, which has scoring of 8-3-2 for team scoring, doubles, swim and singles. The South Jersey Championships is considered the summer’s top beach patrol event, so South Jersey individual winners automatically become Press All-Stars.

Margate’s Chuck Gowdy and Chris Graves won the doubles row in consecutive weeks at the Margate Memorials and the South Jersey Championships (13 points) to become All-Stars for the second year. Gowdy’s South Jersey race win was the 12th of his career, the all-time record. David Funk of Ventnor is next with 10.

McGrath and Duffey are also returning All-Stars, having won the doubles at the Atlantic City Classic before finishing second at the Margate Memorials and the South Jersey Championships (10 points).

“Having the All-Stars is pretty cool,” said McGrath, 33. “Sean and I used to talk about it, that there could be some kind of point system.

“We (the Longport patrol) all push each other, and we’re a family. Sean and I train most of the year. It really helps to have a swimmer like Joey Tepper. We never had a swimmer like him. Joey swims everywhere and pushes himself to be the best he can be.”

Tepper had a perfect score of 23 for winning the four swims to easily earn the All-Star designation.

“This summer was better than last summer because I feel I did better,” said Tepper, 17, a rising senior at Egg Harbor Township High School. “I also feel I did better at the Red Bull (Surf and Rescue, a relay event that Tepper, Max Mitttelman, Tim Schwegman and Taylor Phy of Longport won against 39 other teams). It’s really good to be part of a great team.”

In the singles row, Atlantic City’s Vince Granese won the A.C. Classic and the Hoffman Memorials to become an All-Star (10 points). Chris Spiers of Margate won the South Jersey singles title to automatically make it.

Ventnor is the women’s Team of the Year on a tiebreaker.

Wildwood Crest won the Longport Invitational, and Ventnor took first at its own Howarth Invitational. Neither of those teams finished in the top three in the event it didn’t win, so each earned five points.

The Press used the South Jersey Chiefs Association tiebreaker of the doubles row to decide the winner. Ventnor owned the tiebreaker as Stacey Price and Katie Fisher of that patrol won the Howarth doubles row but didn’t get top-three at Longport. The Crest did not get a top-three doubles finish at either event.

Adrienne Bilello won both swims for the Wildwood Crest women and is that event’s Press All-Star (10 points). The leading singles rower was Ocean City’s Stephanie Hauck, who won that event at the Longport Invitational and was second at the Howarth Invitational (seven points).

Ventnor’s Price was the singles row winner at the Howarth event, and she becomes an All-Star for also having won the doubles row with Katie Fisher at the same event.

Margate twins Amanda and Kristine Auble are the doubles row Press All-Stars for the second straight year. They won at the Longport Invitational and were second to Price and Fisher in the Howarth race (seven points).

THE PRESS SOUTH JERSEY LIFEGUARD ALL-STARS

Team of the Year (coed events): Longport

Team of the Year (women’s events): Ventnor

Doubles row (men): Margate (Chuck Gowdy-Chris Graves); Longport (Mike McGrath-Sean Duffey).

Doubles row (women): Margate (Amanda Auble-Kristine Auble)

Swim (men): Joey Tepper, Longport

Swim (women): Adrienne Bilello, Wildwood Crest

Singles row (men): Vince Granese, Atlantic City; Chris Spiers, Margate

Singles row (women): Stephanie Hauck, Ocean City

Special category: Stacey Price, Ventnor

A look back at the 2019 Lifeguard Race Season

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Contact: 609-272-7210

GGargan@pressofac.com

Staff Writer

I’ve been at The Press since January of 1983. I cover all sports in general, but mostly lifeguard racing, and high school field hockey, football, swimming, basketball, crew, baseball and softball.

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