By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD CREST — The Ocean City Beach Patrol is always among the top contenders at the Cape May County Lifeguard Championships.
But when the host Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol added a pair of events to the competition open to female lifeguards only, Ocean City went from strong contender to lead pipe lock.
Recent Ocean City High School graduate Maggie Wallace, one of the top female high school distance swimmers in the country, won two events to help boost the Ocean City Beach Patrol to a dominating victory.
Ocean City scored 32 points to easily outpace Wildwood Crest (24) and defending champion Wildwood (15). Ocean City won the 35th annual event for the seventh time in the last nine years and the 18th time overall.
Wallace, a multiple-event high school state champion who will swim collegiately at Division I Indiana University, easily won the female box swim and the female box rescue board races for Ocean City.
Bryan Theiss gave Ocean City a third first-place finish by winning the open box rescue board race. The winners capped off the competition with a flourish when their team of Theiss, Ryan McCrossan, Rich Richmond, Pat Cusack and Kat Soanes won the surf dash relay.
Upper Township’s Ryan Fisher and Kyle Rumaker won the doubles row to start the competition. Theiss followed with his comfortable win in the rescue board race.
Wildwood Crest’s John Burkett, a University of Michigan swimmer, out-ran Ocean City’s Frank Brady after reaching the beach to win the open box swim.
Wallace then followed with her double, first taking the swim race and then the rescue board event.
Avalon’s Erich Wolf was an easy winner in the singles row. Wolf was last year’s South Jersey champion.
The next lifeguard competition is Friday, when the North Wildwood Beach Patrol hosts the 50th annual Beschen-Callahan Memorial Lifeguard Championships.