Endless Summer 2019
Local Patrols Competitive, Look to Future
By Dave Bontempo
Matt Wolf and Gary Nagle, doubles row
Kurt Kircher and Stephen Bosacco Jr.
Like boats atop waves, Avalon and Stone Harbor found the beach-patrol race season a battle.
Both claimed their share of shining moments in a season that also presented difficulty. Atlantic County patrols have been strong in recent years, and Longport, which won an unprecedented fourth consecutive South Jerseys championship this year, became a dynasty. The last team to win the South Jerseys before the Longport string? Avalon, in 2015.
Whether the goal is steady improvement or serious consideration for a team crown, Avalon and Stone Harbor will ultimately roll the dice with young, upcoming talent.
Reilly Bonner and Haley Crispell
Avalon: Just Missed
Avalon has standouts in singles rower Erich Wolf and his brother, Matt, who heads the doubles unit. Its immediate goal will be to harness the supporting cast and hope they can stay on the patrol for several years.
Captain Murray Wolf saw the 2019 crystal ball more clearly than he might have liked when asked early in the season about Avalon’s eight-year win streak at the Kerr Memorials, which it hosts.
Jarrett Langrell, Mike Corcoran, Gunnar Bogorowski, Jack Gombar and Jack Mooney with Team Avalon
“We have done a great job with the Kerr races, which is always a goal of ours to win each season,” he said, then added with a chuckle: “But we may be in trouble this year.”
He turned out to be right. Wildwood Crest, in the midst of its hot season, nipped Avalon, 16-15. Singles rower Darrick Kobierowski, enjoying one of his best years ever, edged Erich Wolf, who had beaten him earlier in the season at the Cape May County races.
Avalon Beach Patrol rookies
Erich Wolf did help capture the iron-man competition along with swimmer Kevin Del Giorno and runner Ray Derman. Will Lukens added a third in the swim.
Matt Wolf and Gary Nagle teamed up for a doubles rowing victory. The rowers have a unique partnership as Wolf previously coached Nagle, Middle Township High School’s all-time wrestling wins leader.
Gary Nagle and Matt Wolf
Nagle is developing nicely on the race circuit with Wolf, just as Jake Enright did in a five-year run that ended a couple of seasons back. Nagle and Wolf figure to take another step forward next year, and it will be an important factor for Avalon. It takes years for a doubles tandem to click on a level capable of taking the circuit’s highest honors, and the competition among 15 patrols is stiff.
“Because we won the South Jerseys in 2015, everything gets measured off of that,” Matt Wolf says. “You understand it, but not every year is going to be your year. There are many outstanding patrols and competitors in South Jersey.
Grace McDermott and Gunnar Bogorowski for Team Avalon
“This was one of those seasons in which we grinded for everything we got. We were happy with the effort and we will continue to get better.”
Wolf and Nagle rowed hard in the South Jerseys, finishing just off the points board. Erich Wolf, two-time South Jerseys champion, was close to a potentially thrilling final with the eventual winners. They caught a little break on a wave, however, and rode it home.
Stone Harbor: Youth Served
Stone Harbor displayed a mix of veteran leadership and youthful exuberance.
Lieutenant Dennis Bakey posted a strong second in the Margate Memorials singles row, just ticks behind the winner. Bakey is a 23-year veteran of the patrol and recently began competing in singles.
The season otherwise reflected the patrol’s annual introduction of newcomers. Stone Harbor captain Sandy Bosacco measures the campaign by beach safety and the accomplishments of emerging guards. Their time may be fleeting, as the young athletes take on full-time jobs after college and often leave the shore patrols, but the newcomers here underscored Stone Harbor’s work ethic.
“We’re always a very young patrol,” Bosacco says, “which is why you appreciate the fine young guards who sit on the stand all day, do their job and race for us in the competitions.
“A lot of strong athletes have surfaced. They are good, energetic young people and you get to guide them. They displayed a lot of interest in our race-offs. It makes me optimistic that we will continue to have success. We are proud of these people.”
Kurt Kircher and Stephen Bosacco Jr., doubles row
Greg Osborne and James Gusmer exemplified his sentiments.
Gusmer, a second-year guard who has long run cross country and track, found the Dutch Hoffman 2-mile run to his liking. He stayed with the leadership pack for about a mile-and-a-half before pulling a way to win handily in a personal best of 9 minutes, 43 seconds. The Dutch Hoffmans were the only event on the circuit to offer a 2-mile run.
For Gusmer, an Arlington, Va., native, lifeguarding offers a rich menu of experience.
“It gives you something new every day, which is not something you can say about every job,” he says. “You are outside all day, which is fun in itself, and it is kind of nice to know that you are doing something meaningful.”
Dennis Bakey, singles row
Gusmer has a tongue-in-cheek perspective about the academic pedigree he gives the patrol. He attends Harvard, a fact not lost on his teammates.
“It’s something you hear a lot about, especially when you do something stupid,” he says with a laugh. “They will say, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ We always joke about it.”
Osborne, a third-year guard and club lacrosse player at the College of Charleston, provided a paddle-board victory on the circuit’s opening night, the Cape May County Championships.
Some of that lacrosse sprinting paid off as he navigated difficult water conditions, emerged from the water slightly behind the leader and outkicked everyone in a final sprint.
“It was an awesome feeling hearing everyone screaming,” he recalls. “This is a great place to be and a real nice summer job. It’s great to be outside all the time and working around talented people.”
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