LA County lifeguards’ 27-year winning streak is snapped
Lifeguards from the Monmouth County Chapter of New Jersey pulled off a major upset recently, capturing the Nautica United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) National Lifeguard Championships at Virginia Beach, Virginia, ending LA County Surf Life Saving Association’s run of 27 consecutive titles.
“What is it, a 27 year run from LA County? Half our team isn’t even 27 years old,” said Monmouth County team captain Mike Tomaino. “To see this dream come true, with all the hard work, preparation and competition that Monmouth County lifeguards have done, it’s an incredible feeling and satisfying conclusion to the season. But we already need to start looking toward next year, because LA County won’t be satisfied with second place for long.”
Monmouth County finished with 1,217.348 team points, earning the Howard Lee Trophy. LA County Surf Life Saving Association finished second with 1,001.350.
The event showcased the lifesaving skills of lifeguards from 64 USLA chapters along with competition in the Junior Guard division
Redondo Beach native Brian Murphy of LA County Surf Life Saving Association led all men in Open points scored with 84.875. Kelsey O’Donnell won the Open women’s crown with 95.9 points.
“The level of athleticism and competition at Nationals gets better and better each year,” said Ed Zebrowski, Competition Committee Chair for the USLA. “After knocking on the door for so many years, it’s great to see Monmouth County take the USLA title from the LA County Surf Life Saving Association. I’m certain the East Coast – West Coast rivalry will continue in 2015. Guards will continue to elevate their lifesaving skills for next year’s Nationals in Daytona Beach.”
Murphy and Kevin Fink teamed to win the Men’s Open Board Rescue competition. Murphy placed second in the board race and Ironman events and joined Tim Burdiak, Jeff Hart and Brandon Hendry-Snell to finish second in the Taplin Relay.
O’Donnell earned her overall championship with a first-place finish in the board race and the Taplin Relay when she teamed with Tandis Morgan, Coral Kemp and Jenna Solberg.
She had second-place finishes in the Ironwoman and board rescue and joined Chris Linkletter, Morgan and Kemp to finish third in the rescue race.
LA County was well represented with athletes from the South Bay, particularly in women’s competition.
El Segundo’s Coral Kemp won the board rescue and placed third in the American Ironwoman behind Solberg, who won the event and placed third in the Board Race.
Morgan placed second in the surf ski and won the women’s 30-34 age division in the board race, Ironwoman and surf ski.
Ann Finley dominated the 50-54 age group winning the 2K beach run, run-swim-run, surf race, beach flags and teamed with Linkletter to win the surf boat race. Linkletter also won the surf ski in the 45-49 category.
Dierdre Fisher (ages 50-54) won the board race, Ironwoman, surf ski and American Ironwoman events. Shannon Sullivan (60-64) won titles in the run-swim-run, surf race, American Ironwoman and beach flags.
Men placing in the top three in their respective open events included Jeff Hart and Ryan Matthews who finished second and third, respectively, in American Ironman, and Patrick Fink who placed third in the run-swim-run.
Eldin Onsgard and Tom Fink led LA County representatives in age division competition. Onsgard placed first in the Men’s 60-64 group winning the 2K beach run, Ironman, beach flags and teamed with Mike O’Donnell to capture the surf boat race.
Competing in the 50-54 division, Fink took top honors in the board race, Ironman and surf ski.
In the men’s 65-69 age group, Joel Gitelson won the surf ski, Nathan Shoemaker (55-59) won the surf ski and Bob Burnside teamed with Philip Rogers of South Jersey to win the 70+ surf boat race.
In Junior Guard competition, El Segundo’s Kira Makuta dominated the girls 16-17 division winning the Ironguard, board race, run-swim-run, surf race and partnered with Shane Brouwer to win the rescue race.
Natalie Smith (12-13) won the surf race and Molly Hastings (9-11) captured the beach run title.
Kian Brouwer was a three-time winner in the boys 14-15 age group with top finishes in the Ironguard, Run-Swim-Run and Surf Race.
For full results, visit nationalresults.usla.org.