Lifeguard Tournament Preview

Cedars Beach Patrol Gearing Up for a Possible Island Tourney Three-peat

By DAVID BIGGY | Jun 28, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy For two straight summers, the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol has emerged as the top squad of the Long Beach Island Beach Patrol Association tournament and will seek a three-peat later this season.

During a three-year stretch in the 1970s, the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol was king of Long Beach Island. But then came the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and Harvey Cedars struggled to keep up with most of the other beach patrol competition teams. Once 2010 arrived, the Vikings started to climb a bit and a few years ago they emerged as one of the contenders of the Long Beach Island Beach Patrol Association tournament.

“We’ve grown exponentially as a beach patrol for the past seven or eight years,” said Randy Townsend, who as captain has slowly but surely built a powerhouse, one which has won the Island tourney the two past years. “Our success the past few years is a byproduct of the great environment we’ve developed, and I couldn’t be more tickled to work with such a great group of lifeguards. What we’ve built here ... it’s fantastic.”

Now, as the competition season looms, all eyes will be on Harvey Cedars. That is the question, after all: Can the Vikings three-peat at this year’s 56th annual Island tourney?

“Can we? Of course, we can,” Townsend said. “We have a lot of depth and a lot of great competitors with a lot of heart. But what I’m not going to say is that we will do it, because it is ocean racing and, very often, the ocean picks its winners. Every year, there are so many close races that are determined by a wave and there’s so much uncertainty when you’re dealing with constantly moving ocean conditions. There’s never a sure thing when the ocean is the biggest factor.”

However, Townsend’s crew is not much different than the one from last summer, a squad that crushed its competition in the Surf City Epic tournament, the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol Women’s Invitational and its own Cutter’s Cup tourney, and finished second, by way of tiebreaker, to Atlantic County power Ocean City in a stacked Ship Bottom Jack Donlon Memorial tournament.

The Vikings’ depth and skill was top-notch and they made the most of it pretty much anywhere they showed up to compete. And while the team doesn’t have a pair of phenomenal swimmers – Gabby Sibilia and Roman Horoszewski – back on its roster for this summer, Cedars still has plenty of top competitors in Billy Webster, Ryan Corcoran, Jenna Parker, Maggie Shaw, Kevin Wessler, Mike and Otto Weiler, among others.

But in case any of the other five Island beach patrols – Barnegat Light, Surf City, Ship Bottom, Long Beach Township and Beach Haven – are wondering whether Cedars might have a slight dropoff, that’s not likely to be the case because 26-year veteran Brady Stauffer, one of Barnegat Light’s premier competitors for many years, recently transferred to Harvey Cedars and brought his 16-year-old son, Shane, with him. Stauffer’s presence immediately raises Cedars’ stock in rowing events.

“Brady’s a seasoned veteran who knows what he’s doing and was the only one, besides Gabby Sibilia, who won triple gold in last year’s Island tournament,” Townsend said. “So, yeah, we’re really happy Brady’s joined our beach patrol. He and his son are going to be a huge asset to us, in all facets of what we do here. And as far as competition goes, not only is Brady a great rower but he’s also a very good swimmer. We’re fortunate that he chose to come here. It’s awesome.”

Of course, that’s not to say Barnegat Light, Ship Bottom or Long Beach Township – the three other main players in last year’s Island tourney – won’t be in the chase again this season. As Townsend says, nothing’s a certainty when the ocean plays the biggest role in who wins and loses from one event to the next. But right now, Cedars, on paper, at least, is still at the top and all others are going to have to come up with some big efforts to knock off the Vikings.

And like every other summer, the other patrols will have multiple opportunities to take their shots at Cedars. Here’s a brief look at what’s coming up:

Wednesday, July 12 – The 12th Surf City Epic tournament, dominated by Harvey Cedars last summer, consists of five grueling events and begins at 6 p.m. near the Fifth Street beach. This tournament always tests the mettle of the competitors early on in the season.

Tuesday, July 18 – Last year marked the first time any patrol hosted an all-women’s event, and the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol did an awesome job of it. The Harvey Cedars women cruised to the title in last year’s inaugural event, but Surf City and Long Beach Township should have plenty of first-rate competitors to keep those patrols in the hunt at the 68th Street beach. The first event gets under way at 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 20 – The Ship Bottom Jack Donlon Memorial tournament, set for 6 p.m. near 18th or 19th streets, is going to have another stacked field again this year. With 15 teams on the slate, including Atlantic County powers Ocean City and Atlantic City and Monmouth County power Sandy Hook, this tourney is a fan’s delight and should be a classic.

Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – When it comes to intra-squad competitions, none beats the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol Mayor’s Cup, now in its 34th year. Let’s put it this way, the squads from Loveladies/North Beach, which won last year, Brant Beach, Spray Beach, Beach Haven Crest and Holgate all work for the same township, but the internal competition is fierce and always fun to watch. It all gets started at 68th Street at 6 p.m. each day.

Monday, July 31 – The Lifeguard-in-Training programs within many Long Beach Island beach patrols are strong, and the annual LIT Tournament always offers a nice glimpse into the future of who may be protecting the ocean beaches during the coming years. This year’s LIT tourney marks its 26th year and starts at 9 a.m. at the 68th Street beach.

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – The Rose Bowl of the Island tournaments is in its 56th year and typically provides plenty of competitive excitement. Running off 68th Street at 6 p.m. on both days, the LBIBPA Tournament is a local fan favorite in which each patrol brings its best to the beach. And, of course, the one question looms: Will Harvey Cedars three-peat a la 1972-74, or will the Vikings get knocked off? Expect Barnegat Light, the winningest team in the tournament’s history and always a title contender, to bring the blitz.

Still to Be Determined – Harvey Cedars’ Cutter’s Cup Tournament was the last of the bunch last summer, and it may end up that way again this year. With Cedars’ guards competing in a slew of events throughout July, this tourney may not get on the slate until the second week of August. Nonetheless, it’s going to be a good one, with some big-time teams in the mix.

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