By Mitch Silver

A lot of things have to come together for a Rye High student-athlete to win a New York State championship in sports. If you’re a quarterback, the whole football team has to be good enough to make it to the Carrier Dome and win a couple of games there. Same, of course, goes for all the team sports. May’s honoree for the Rye Lions Club Athlete of the Month award hasn’t merely won a State title, he’s won one in back-to-back years. His name is John Dailey, he’s captain of the men’s varsity crew, and he’s one of the best rowers Rye High has ever produced.

This month, John and his lightweight foursome plus coxswain not only repeated as New York’s best, but they beat the second-pace team by a 100-meter margin, with the fastest row in the 1,500-meter race’s recorded history. And it would have beaten the 2017 heavyweight champions by five full seconds if they’d raced side by side.

As the boat’s stroke, John sets the pace for the rest of the team. You could say he does the same on land, recording a 95 GPA while carrying the following AP courses: World History, U.S. History, U.S. Government and Politics, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Calculus AB, Literature & Composition, and Language & Composition. He will be studying at Boston College in the fall. “It’s a Jesuit school, and they really value the liberal arts there. I want a wide-ranging curriculum, and that’s exactly what they offer.”

John credits his teachers — Mr. Kelly, Mr. Teisch, and Mr. Zung — with mentoring him in the classroom. And he credits his coach, Stanley Nelson, for guiding his success in his sport. “I was a scrawny kid. I don’t know what the coach saw in me.”

Coach Nelson is clear about what he saw.

“Even as a freshman, John showed leadership and competitiveness, constantly raising the bar ever higher for himself and his teammates. He understood early that his calling was to be a lightweight rower, and he spent all of his freshman and sophomore years building his strength and endurance.

“He has been both the emotional and the ‘on the water’ leader of the boats that have qualified for Youth Nationals each year since he was a sophomore.  A team captain for two years, he’s a student of rowing. John researches the crews we race, knows the coaches and studies the techniques they teach, and follows the champions in the sport, emulating their behavior. 

The award for May, given jointly by the Lions and the Rye High Athletic Department, qualifies John to join the other monthly winners in the race for Athlete of the Year, an honor that will be announced next month at a dinner at The Osborn.

Before that night, there’s still the SRAA Nationals in Camden this weekend, and U.S. Rowing’s Youth Championships down in Florida in two weeks. So he just might walk into The Osborn with even more gold in his pocket.



Rye Neck Softball

By Mitch Silver


Section 1’s winningest coach of all time has done it again. Joan Spedafino, in her 32nd year at the helm, has another title contender at Rye Neck. The Panthers spent the last couple of weeks winning games in every way imaginable — with overwhelming pitching, timely hitting, and airtight defense. Even the lone blemish on their record, a 3-2 loss to Valhalla, was to the Sections’ other perennial powerhouse and the No. 14 team in New York State’s Class B. They’ll meet again.


But first, lets talk about the wins. The Panthers crushed Haldane 11-1 April 20 on an Olivia Dunne one-hitter. She struck out 16 batters while Alycia Rodriquez drove in three runs. Alana Proudian went 3-for-4 and drove in two more.


Four days later Dunne was back at it, shutting out cross-town rival Rye on 12 Ks while allowing two hits. They might still be playing had not catcher Sam Yannuzzi blasted a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh for the game’s only run.


Coach Sped and the girls knew Valhalla was going to be tough when they faced the Vikings 48 hours later. The Vikes won four straight Sectional titles before the Panthers snapped that streak in 2015, and the games between the two are always a battle. Dunne struck out four and went 3-for-4 at the plate, but Julianna Abonndola nicked her for the winning RBI.


Rye Neck returned to the winning path with a big 8-0 victory May 1 over their Class B rival Blind Brook. Alycia Rodriguez took the ball and struck out 11 while yielding a single hit. Rodriguez also tripled and drove in two runs while Proudian went 4-for-4 with an RBI. What made the victory especially sweet is the way Rodriguez shut down the Trojans’ Julia Bucci. 


Seven days earlier, Bucci entered the New York State Public High School Athletic Association record books by hitting three home runs and driving in 12 RBIs in the team’s 31-0 (yes, 31-0) rout of Palisade Prep. The junior finished the week going 7-for-12 at the plate. But Rodriguez cooled her off pretty convincingly.


The locals, now ranked No. 16 in New York State’s Class B, played at Keio and Edgemont post-press time before returning home today to return the favor and host Edgemont. Game time is 4:15. Tomorrow sees the Rye Neck nine travel to Pelham for the Pelicans’ tournament that starts at 4 at Glover Field.






Holy Child Softball

By Melanie Cane

It felt like a Nor’easter hit Holy Child May 8, when St. Luke’s stormed into town and crushed the Gryphons 14-0. Emma Cropper threw lightning bolts, striking out eight and allowing only two singles. The Storm’s bats cracked like thunder with 16 hits.

Neither team scored in the first inning, but St. Luke’s scored four in the top of the second. The first batter was hit by a pitch, and the second hit a hard grounder to shortstop. Gryphon freshman shortstop Lily Hurley made a beautiful backhanded stop, limiting the runner to a single, but the runners advanced on a double steal and then the hits came in rapid succession.

Holy Child’s Sami Drew led off the bottom of the third with a single, hitting a hard grounder to centerfield. She stole second and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. Hurley hit an infield grounder and Drew was thrown out on her way home.

The Storm scored nine runs in the fourth inning. Catcher Caroline Bryceland finally ended the inning by chasing down and catching a pop-up foul. The talented sophomore opened the bottom of the inning with a solid line drive deep to left field, but it was caught. St. Luke’s tacked on one more in the fifth. The game ended after the fifth inning when the “mercy rule” was applied.

The Gryphons were 5-7 before the loss to the Storm. Coach Michael Clancy said the team is a work-in-progress. “Our young players are really doing well, particularly Lily, Catherine, and Michaela Fitzgerald.”

With several players out for the season with injuries, the team has had to make a lot of adjustments, but they are enthusiastic, hard-working girls who never give up

Caroline Bryceland about to throw to third base.

Michaela Fitzgerald catching a pop-up.


By Melanie Cane

It wasn't billed as a doubleheader, but it seemed like one: on the afternoon of April 28, the Garnets played a long game against Ardsley, and the following morning they faced Somers. Before the Ardsley game, Coach Alex Tejera said the team had been inconsistent, playing really well one day and poorly the next. Case in point: the Garnets lost to Ardsley 14-5, and beat the Somers Tuskers 6-5.

Against Ardsley, the Garnets got into a 9-1 hole early in the game. The Panthers scored twice in the first, three times in the second, and tacked on four in the third. Rye scored one in the bottom of the second and started to chip away at their deficit, scoring three in the third and one in the fourth.

In the third inning, Sam Bluvol led off with a single to left field. Hannah Mullaly’s double to centerfield moved Bluvol to third. Pitcher Katherine Brown had an RBI single. Then Taylor Volpe loaded the bases with a single, and Julia Bateman and Sadie Mazzola both walked in runs.

The Garnets added their last run in the fourth inning. Neither team scored in the fifth, but Rye had some solid hits. Shelby Gadaleta replaced Brown after the first out in the fifth. She retired the side, but the Panthers hit her hard in the sixth, scoring four runs.

In the Somers game, Montalto went 3 for 4, and Brown pitched a complete game. These were the first two games of 11 the Garnets will play in the space of two weeks due to rescheduling of rainouts.

Tejera praised his team for never giving up, but emphasized that “against a top team like Ardsley, you can’t fall behind early and hope to catch up.”

He added, “The girls always try their hardest, and for that I’m very proud of them, no matter the outcome. That’s all I can ask for.”


Megan Montalto on her way to third

Katherine Brown on the mound



Peter Tonkel, 14, and Julianne Tonkel, 11, competed last month in the USA Snowboard and Freeski Association Nationals at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Julianne, who attends The Ursuline School, began snowboarding in third grade. She entered five events at nationals – Slalom, Giant Slalom, Slopestyle, Halfpipe, and Boardcross. She won three medals, taking overall gold in her age group.

Peter, an eighth grader at Rye Middle School, competed in Halfpipe and Slopestyle. He started snowboarding in fifth grade and is ranked third in the country.

Julianne and Peter live in Rye, but train in Vermont almost every weekend from December through April. At Copper Mountain, they competed among nearly 2,000 of the best snowboarders from across the country.

<Photo courtesy of Vast Photos>

Julianne Tonkel winning the Giant Slalom at Copper Mountain last month.


Peter Tonkel soared at USA Snowboard and Freeski Nationals.



Rye High Baseball

By Mitch Silver


If you thought Mike Bruno’s Rye High baseball team wouldn’t be the same after losing All-State pitcher George Kirby and a raft of All-League players to graduation, you’d be right. They’re better. 


This past fortnight saw the Garnets shut out Yonkers by 8-0, defeat arch-rival Harrison 7-1 in the third annual Andrew Gurgitano Memorial game at Silver Lake Park, and down league foe Pelham twice by scores of 3-1 and 11-2. Rye’s nine did drop a 3-0 four-hitter to non-league Pearl River, currently the top-rated team in Class A. But they came right back to win a seesaw 5-4 cliffhanger against 9-1 Hendrik Hudson. And the way they did it tells you a lot about the 2017 Garnets.


With snow days in March wreaking havoc with an already tight season, Rye was forced to play four straight days last week. And with the new, more rigid pitch counts also limiting pitcher availability, Coach Bruno gave junior Sean Hale his first varsity start against Hen Hud. Though he threw four straight balls to the leadoff hitter, Hale found his rhythm and was leading 4-2 going into the sixth. A walk, a double, and a two-out line single knotted the score at 4 and brought on senior James Laverty. Lav threw wild on a pickoff play, and a second error on the play moved the lead runner to third. But Myles Burbank in center managed to grab a sinking liner on his knees to end the threat.


 An inning later, Burbank would move from the outfield to the mound and toss a 1-2-3 7th. The Garnets’ last licks saw sophomore Henry Friedrich ground out to second, ninth grader Declan Lavelle draw a walk, and junior Gavin Kenny bounce out to third, with Lavelle moving to second. That left it up to senior co-captain Mat Bruno, and did he ever deliver, smashing a huge triple to the wall in left-center and driving in Lavelle with the winning run.


After the game, Coach Bruno admitted he went a little longer with Hale than he wanted to. “Sean threw a strong game. I knew anyone we might bring in who threw more than 30 pitches wouldn’t be available against Pelham tomorrow, so we rode that arm. And he got the win.”


Rye’s lineup boasts only three seniors: Bruno, the coach’s nephew; Burbank, who got the save; and hard-hitting first baseman Dusty Mion, who scored a run and drove another in. Heading into May, they’re all hitting over .300, as are junior Andy Bach and sophs Alex Noga and Finn Westerink.


The Garnets played league foe Ardsley twice post-press time as well as non-league toughie Tappan Zee. This afternoon they host the Harrison Huskies at Disbrow, looking to win the season series and lock up the Conference II League title.