Rye’s Athletes Bring Back Seven Medals From Empire State Games

Sixteen of Rye’s finest athletes traveled to Buffalo July 21-25 to represent the Hudson Valley at the Empire State Games – back after a one-year absence – and returned home with a bounty of seven medals in tow.

Rye High School senior Lillian McCabe starred for the women’s scholastic basketball team, detonating for a game-high 19 points in the gold medal tilt to lead her team to victory. McCabe was a maestro from downtown, nailing five 3-pointers in the victory over Central

Lillian McCabe

Conor Smith, also a senior at RHS, was part of the Hudson Valley basketball team that struck gold at the Games for the first time since 1995. He played the role of defensive stopper and rebounder, and was tasked with shutting down the opposition’s best player.

“The most important thing I learned is how to play tougher and more physical, the way they do in the college game,” said Smith.  “Winning the gold means a lot and is something I’ll always remember and treasure.”

Conor Smith, left, at opening ceremonies

Annie VanWagenen, an RHS junior, was the third and final Rye representative to win gold. VanWagenen said it was no easy task, as the Hudson Valley field hockey team practiced four days a week up in Lakeland, spending up to 10 hours in one day devoting time to developing the skills needed to wear gold.

Annie VanWagenen

“The experience was unlike anything else,” said VanWagenen. “Not only did I become a stronger player, but I was finally able to see how hark work and dedication can pay off —winning the gold was a feeling of pride and fulfillment. Last but not least, I met and became friends with an incredible group of talented players, most of whom I would never have met if it was not for this opportunity.”

Former Garnet basketball great Liam McCabe-Moran won silver as part of the Hudson Valley squadron in the men’s open tournament. He contributed five points in the championship loss.

Rye junior Coco Darelius also departed Buffalo with a silver medal. She earned hers in the 3-meter diving event. Darelius took home a bronze as well, pairing with Casandra Schwartz in synchronized diving to win Hudson Valley their first medals in the competition since 2003.

Coco Darelius

“Even though diving for eight hours a day originally seemed like a chore, in all honesty it was some of the most fun my teammate and I have had,” said Darelius. “We both learned some incredibly fun dives, off 1-meter, 3-meter and even platform. The other competitors were some of the sweetest people I have met, and by the end of the Games, it felt like we had been diving together for months, if not years.”

RHS senior Catharine Greer was the final medalist from Rye. She won bronze with the women’s scholastic soccer team.

Catharine Greer, left with Hudson Valley teammate

Although they did not medal, the Hudson Valley men’s scholastic lacrosse team featured an astounding number of athletes from Rye on its 20-man roster. Garnet representatives included David Barton, Christian Bonaventura, Max Bonsall, Michael Collins, Matt McReddie and Brian Pickup. Eddie DeDomenico – a Rye resident and Brunswick School student – was part of the team as well.

Back row, Matt McReddie, Max Bonsall, Brian Pickup, David Barton and Eddie DeDomenico; Front row, Mike Collins and Christian Bonaventura.

“It was a memorable experience that I won’t soon forget,” said Bonaventura. “Getting to play with both my own teammates and new friends made it something special. Any time you compete with your teammates out of season means good things for the program. And now we know how a lot of other greats in Hudson Valley strategize and run their teams. This experience will be good for the Garnets in the long run.”

Brittany McCormack and Natalie Moore played well for the women’s scholastic lacrosse team, which also did not medal.

Haley Neiman participated in the scholastic women’s archery All-Around event, rounding out Rye’s stable of Empire State Games competitors with a solid seventh place finish.


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