Gill stars but OCBP wins county title

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The OCBP's Matt Garbutt and Dylan Kosten won the doubles row The OCBP's Matt Garbutt and Dylan Kosten won the doubles row WILDWOOD CREST – While an Ocean City High School student was the individual star, it was the Ocean City Beach Patrol that again grabbed team glory in the first lifeguard competition of the 2014 season.

The OCBP was the only patrol of 10 to score in all six events as it captured the championship in Monday’s Cape May County Championships. The event was originally scheduled for last Thursday but was postponed to earlier this week due to inclement weather.

The championship is Ocean City’s 15th in the 31 years of the event.

Meanwhile, Kevin Gill, a 17-year-old rising senior at Ocean City High School, led the Upper Township Beach Patrol to a second-place team finish by impressively winning back-to-back events.

Ocean City opened the competition – held in breezy conditions with a churned-up ocean – with its only victory, as Matt Garbutt and Dylan Kosten won the doubles row as a crew for the second time in three summers. The win was the third straight for Garbutt, who teamed with his brother, Jeff, in 2013 after Kosten didn’t compete in the event due to illness.

Garbutt and Kosten did not get off to a great start but quickly rallied and won going away.

UTBP's Kevin Gill won the swim and run/swim events UTBP's Kevin Gill won the swim and run/swim events “The conditions played a factor because there was so much chop and so many tight little swells and we were getting banged around, banged around,” said Garbutt, 38, a 24-year veteran of the patrol. “But the main thing was that we didn’t lose it at the start. We certainly didn’t win it but we didn’t take ourselves out of it. Once we got through the start we were able to get into a rhythm where we were able to find little pockets where we could get 25, 30 good strokes going.

“This is always a well-run race and it’s a great way for us to start the summer.”

Ocean City accumulated 19 points in the competition

Scoring was done on a 6-4-3-2-1 basis for first through fifth places in each event.

Upper Township edged Wildwood Crest on tiebreakers for second after both patrols finished with 17 points. Twelve of Upper’s points were scored by Gill, who perfectly executed a grueling back-to-back effort in the swim and run/swim by winning both events.

Gill, one of the best high school distance freestyle swimmers in South Jersey, easily won the box swim, beating Kell by 35 seconds for his first-ever county victory.

“It was really cool to win because there are a lot of really, really good swimmers here,” Gill said. “I was just trying to do my best.”

Gill held a huge lead after exiting the surf and was able to use a slow jog to the finish.

“Being in the run/swim next, I was happy I was way ahead because I was basically able to shut it down after I got out of the ocean,” he said.

In the run/swim, Gill stayed close enough to the leaders after the 2,000-yard run and quickly moved to the front during the 400-yard swim, winning that event by 10 seconds over Avalon’s Murphy Smith.

“That was really hard,” Gill said of competing in consecutive events. “The run felt really painful. I tried to take it easy during the first loop (of the run) and then I tried to turn it on at the end to get some momentum going into the swim. The way the ocean was, I had a lot more feel for the current and how rough it was going to be since I was just out there for the swim.”

The Crest's Kevin Kelly placed first in the rescue board race Wildwood Crest’s Kevin Kelly won the rescue board race, essentially winning a 200-yard sprint over Pasternak after the two exited the surf in a virtual dead heat.

“It felt like my legs were moving 1,000 miles per hour but when I looked over to the crowd it felt like I was jogging so it was like an adrenaline time warp,” Kelly said of the sprint to the finish. “It’s great to win after (placing second) last year. There was a lot of excitement in the race. It would be great if they could have more paddleboard races.”

Darrick Kobierowski, a longtime successful rower in Stone Harbor who had earned two previous county titles, won for the first time as a Wildwood lifeguard when he edged Avalon’s Erich Wolf in the singles row. Wolf led the race late, but couldn’t navigate his boat around and through a series of late waves and swells as Kobierowski passed him at the finish.

“It was a little different, obviously, rowing for Wildwood,” Kobierowski said. “I knew Erich was ahead of me, but in the back of your mind you know there’s always the ocean. With the waves and the break, anyone can get turned around at any time. In the back of your mind, you know the conditions can help you or hurt you and tonight it helped me. It’s never over until you get to the beach.”

Wildwood Crest’s team of Terry McGovern, Gabe Keown, Brett Pederson and Cameron Aregood scored a rather comfortable win in the surf dash relay, beating Wildwood’s team by seven seconds.

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