By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD — With a United States Olympian and a 2018 NFL first-round draft pick in attendance, it was Jon Burkett who stole the show at the Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Races.
Burkett was part of three first-place finishes to lead Wildwood Crest to the team championship at the 50th annual event that includes seven of Cape May County’s 10 beach patrols.
Burkett won the can run, joined the surf dash relay team for first place and also placed second in the swim race to help Wildwood Crest amass 20 points. Second-place Avalon had 13, with host North Wildwood placing third with nine.
Burkett, a University of Michigan swimmer, anchored the surf dash relay team and scored a comeback victory for his patrol before handily winning the can run.
The other members of the Crest surf dash team were Nathan Belisario, Pat Bakey and Jake Klecko.
Burkett was second to North Wildwood’s Luke Snyder in the swim.
The Crest also got a first-place effort from Kevin Kelly in the rescue board race.
Avalon’s Wolf brothers swept the competition’s two rowing races. Erich and Matt joined forces to win the doubles row. Later, Erich tilled his boat adeptly through the surf at the finish for an easy win in the singles row.
The Beschen-Callahan Memorial Races are held each year in honor of James Beschen and Michael Callahan, a pair of former North Wildwood lifeguards and United States servicemen who were killed during separate incidents during the Vietnam War. Many members of the extended Beschen and Callahan families were on hand for the race and helped distribute the awards.
Also in attendance watching the race were former Wildwood Crest lifeguard and 2016 U.S Olympic triathlete Joe Maloy and 2018 San Francisco 49ers first-round draft pick Mike McGlinchey, a star offensive lineman from Notre Dame who has summered in North Wildwood for most of his life.