Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol Dominates in Epic Lifeguard Tourney

By DAVID BIGGY | Jul 19, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy The Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol squad gathers around the championship plaque after cruising to the Surf City Beach Patrol Epic Lifeguard Tournament title on July 12.

A big smile on her face, Michaela Harvey raised her arms to give a double high-five to Otto Weiler. Her happy exclamation said all that needed to be said. The Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol was, yet again, victorious in a lifeguard tournament. Dominant again, actually.

“Of course, we wanted to drop the hammer,” said Weiler, after he, Harvey, Maggie Shaw, Jeff Shanley and Jenna Parker easily won the Ironman Medley to punctuate HCBP’s near-perfect effort in the 12th annual Surf City Beach Patrol Epic Tournament. “We’re not trying to embarrass anybody, but we want to do the best in every event we race. We go as hard as we can because, especially this early in the season, this is part of our training for other tournaments. We’re not going soft on anything.”

With the exception of one second-place finish in the second event, the Vikings made repeating as the Epic champ look somewhat easy.

“Every day is a training day for us, regardless of where we are or what tournament it is,” said Randy Townsend, HCBP’s captain, who two days earlier finished third in the prestigious SuperAthelon in Cape May. “We train our butts off, and there’s never a lack of effort with our guards. We go all-out all the time. And fortunately, we’ve had a lot of success the past few years, so we know what we’re doing works.”

Townsend and Parker worked extremely well together in the Epic Run-Swim event, which is comprised of a grueling 2-mile beach run followed by a swim of some 1,000 feet and uses cross-country scoring to determine the winner. The teams were made up of a male and female guard.

Entering the ocean following the run, Townsend was in fourth, but he pulled into second behind Surf City’s Charlie Osborne soon after the third buoy. When they emerged from the surf, Osborne was ahead by only 15 yards, but Townsend couldn’t overtake Osborne as they trudged through the surf and Osborne ended up first to the finish line. Meanwhile, Parker, who had started the swim in fifth behind Townsend, maintained her comfortable position in fifth and the Cedars duo easily won, well ahead of the Surf City duo of Osborne and Julia Rothstein.

During the run of the Epic Run-Swim, the official second event, the Paddle Relay, was contested and easily won by the Ship Bottom quartet of Chris Durbin, Tracy Hemmerle, Kim Muldoon and Mike Vile. After three legs, Surf City held a slight lead over Ship Bottom, but it only took Vile about 60 yards to pass Max Gaudioso.

Vile, a seasoned veteran and one of the most well-rounded guards on the Island, simply left Gaudioso in his wake and effortlessly paddled to shore for the win. However, Vile wasn’t the only one, as Cedars’ Joe Pantaleo zipped into second during the final 500 feet to keep his team ahead, 14-11, in the standings after two events.

In the third event, the Swim Relay, the Harvey Cedars crew of Paul Blankemeyer, Shaw, Parker and Shanley cruised to first place, despite a rogue orange buoy – marking the course’s first turn – getting loose and floating northeast toward the 40th parallel. After Blankemeyer tagged off to Shaw in first place, Shaw was passed on the second leg. But Parker, who raced into the ocean a mere 40 yards behind Surf City’s third swimmer, easily moved into the lead as they neared the returned orange buoy.

From there, it was cruise control for the Vikings, as Parker increased the lead to some 200 feet before tagging off to Shanley, who easily maintained the lead. Still, Ship Bottom, which had pulled into second during the third leg, didn’t slip too far in the standings because Vile also maintained his second position.

“There was some talk about Mike going to Ship Bottom, and that’s great for them,” Townsend said. “Mike Vile instantly made Ship Bottom a better team, and that just makes the competitions much more exciting. But it also meant our team had to elevate its level, and they came through.”

In the Mixed Doubles event, composed of a lifeguard-chair drag through 50 feet of sand along with a 1,000-foot row, the Vikings’ Kevin Wessler teamed with Harvey to take first. Wessler and Harvey each finished their chair drags and hit the ocean in the surfboat in first, followed closely by Ship Bottom’s Avery Watterworth and Haley Ullinger. But while Wessler and Harvey cleared the surf well, Watterworth and Ullinger had a bit of trouble getting out and the Vikings’ lead grew quickly.

Once past the third buoy, Wessler and Harvey snagged a wave and got turned northward, but the distance between them and the rest of the field was large enough that once they reached the beach they simply jogged to the finish line. After a bad turn at the first buoy, Ship Bottom ended up third and it was game over. With 30 points after four events, Cedars already wrapped up the tourney win.

“That stand was really heavy, but Maggie did this event last year and gave me a good tip, to just keep moving my legs and don’t worry about speed,” Harvey said after helping clinch the title. “We saw Ship Bottom turn wrong, but you never know what can happen out there. We just had to keep going, but once we caught that wave I knew we were good.”

Cedars won with 38 points, followed by Ship Bottom, winning a second-place tiebreaker with 21 points, and Surf City. For the Vikings, who received big efforts from newcomer Bridget Sprouls and veteran paddler Tim Goldstein, returning to HCBP after a lengthy hiatus, the Epic victory made them 2-for-2. They won Lavallette’s tournament on July 6 to start the competition season.

“We’ve been trying out some of our newer guards, and so far they’ve been awesome,” Townsend said. “It takes a lot of synergy, even between the newcomers and veterans, to have a good competition team. We’re not letting up. We want to keep getting better, and have fun doing it.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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