Surf City Cruises to Another Women’s Invitational Lifeguard Tourney Crown

By DAVID BIGGY | Jul 17, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Surf City Beach Patrol’s Pepper Kolman glides toward the beach in first place for the Ironwoman event, punctuating another excellent effort in the Long Beach Township Women’s Invitational Tournament on July 16.

Long Beach Township — After winning the past two Long Beach Township Women’s Invitational tournaments, the Surf City Beach Patrol had a lot of confidence going into this year’s event on July 16.

“We’re the dominant women’s team here and we’re not afraid to say it,” said Gaby Hartney, after she and her teammates again cruised to the title with 75 points, well ahead of second-place Wildwood, which scored 58. “We’ve shown the past two years how strong of a team we are, and we really love this tournament. As soon as we get here for the summer, the first question is ‘What’s the lineup going to be for the women’s tournament?’ and then we start training from Day One.”

That much was evident again on Tuesday, as Surf City won six of the 11 events and finished first or second in 10 of them, taking fourth in only the Mile Run. But otherwise, it was every other team’s job to try to keep pace with SCBP.

After the Rothstein sisters – Emily, Lauren and Julia –  scored a victory over Wildwood in the opening Line Pull, Surf City never let up on the gas. Julia Rothstein easily won the 1,500-foot Paddleboard and Maria Nitti scored second-place points behind Wildwood’s Bella Taylor in the 1,000-foot Swim. Meanwhile, Hartney and Anna Esposito were busy on the Mile Row course, trying to defend their title of the past two years.

But Barnegat Light’s Laura Patterson and Rachel Mumau brought their best to the early morning competition, fresh off a victory in the women’s doubles row event in the Island Beach State Park Tournament on Monday, and delivered first-place points for their squad – its only win of the tourney.

“We had a slow start but picked it up as we got near the first marker,” Patterson said. “We won last night, so we had some momentum coming into today. But we knew we had to be at our best, because Gaby and Anna are really great competition.”

After Patterson and Mumau turned the first marker in first, they completed the southward leg and turned northward, still hanging on to a 50-yard lead. But through the long backstretch going south to north, Patterson and Mumau edged their lead a bit farther, and turned on the accelerator after the third turn.

“We knew how far away they were and we also knew we only had to get through the last leg of the course,” Patterson said. “At that point, we really turned it up. We kept our stroke together the whole way. Once we turned for the beach, we just made sure not to get turned.”

Still, after four events, Surf City was eight points out in front of Wildwood, and the lead only increased from there. Hartney jumped right back into the boat for the Singles Row and – while not making it look easy, as she trailed Long Beach Township’s Juliana Perello for most of the race before Perello got turned on a wave – managed to cross the finish line first.

Ava Crawford then gave Harvey Cedars its only first-place points when she won the Mile Run, but SCBP threw down the hammer on the competition by winning the next two events. Wildwood kept pace by taking second in both, but Surf City’s lead was too solid.

Pepper Kolman and the Rothstein sisters easily cruised to victory in the Paddle Relay, before Kolman came right back for the Buoy Rescue and teamed with Maria Nitti for another eight points, giving SCBP 55 with three events to go. Surf City clinched the tourney crown when Hartney and Esposito took second behind Perello and LBTBP teammate Taylor Jennings in the Doubles Row.

Interestingly, Perello didn’t make the same mistake twice, as she and Jennings made a big surge on the north side of the course. After turning the marker in third, the township tandem stroked their way to a slight lead with 150 feet left in the race, with the Barnegat Light duo of Mumau and Mackenzie Meyer right near the front and Hartney and Esposito just behind in third.

After Mumau and Meyer snagged a wave, they got turned a bit and then got caught behind the wave and out of position to get their stroke back in order. Meanwhile, Perello and Jennings kept the oars moving, stroking their way straight to the beach for an easy exit and victory.

“I had to remember to keep the boat straight, which was what I didn’t do in the singles race,” Perello said. “We saw that BL and Surf City were next to us, and I just yelled to Taylor, ‘Let’s get this!’ and we just got our oars going into a better rhythm. This is only the second time we’re rowing together, so our rhythm was important. And, of course, staying straight.”

Still, nobody was catching Surf City, which received second-place points from Julia Rothstein and Nitti in the Paddle Rescue, before Kolman wrecked the field in the Ironwoman, getting out to a lead on the opening rowing leg and never looking back.

“I was excited for this race,” said Kolman, who rows for Clemson’s crew team the rest of the year. “It’s not a race that’s always likeable. It’s more you get used to doing it. But today was a good day. I wanted to put the exclamation point on our team win.”

Following Wildwood in the standings, Long Beach Township finished third with 40 points, while Harvey Cedars ended up fourth with 39 points and Barnegat Light was fifth with 36 points.

“This tournament always has good competition and the flat water usually evens the field in a lot of ways,” Julia Rothstein said. “But we were ready. We have a complete team with a lot of depth, and for us it’s about doing our best and having fun together. Being a morning tournament, it was a bit tough not having the support from the rest of our patrol like we would for a tournament later in the day, but it worked out.”

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