By S. Quinn DeJoy and J. Murrer
Mar. 8, 2017: Three Bronco athletes headed to the girls' indoor track and boys' swimming state championships this past weekend, and those three Broncos returned with a total of four gold medals. Kaitlin Ryan brought home her first individual indoor track state and federation championship in the 1000m, and swimmer Andrew Babyak won the state and federation title in the 500 freestyle. Babyak, Bronxville sophomore Tim Cushman, New Rochelle senior John Freeman, and New Rochelle junior Michael Lawson won a state gold in the 400 freestyle relay.
Winning gold is an outstanding accomplishment for the Bronxville athletes. In swimming and indoor track, there is no division between small and large schools, so Bronco athletes compete against the best in the state. Babyak and Ryan each won a federation title, which includes both public and private schools.
At the New York State Track and Field Championships at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex on Staten Island, Ryan took the lead at the beginning of Saturday's race and never let it go. She finished in a time of 2:50.15, but Ursuline freshman Lily Flynn was threatening the entire race, finishing just half a second behind Ryan (2:50.72).
Ryan has previously won seven gold medals at the state championship level: one for cross country, five for relay teams, and one in the 1500m outdoors. Her statistics are impressive. This winter at the Section 1 Class C Championships, she set a personal best in the 1000m of 2:48.42 and is currently ranked No.3 in the U.S.
At the New York State Swimming Championships held at the Nassau Aquatic Center on Saturday, Babyak finished the 500 free in a personal record time of 4.26.26. He finished more than three seconds ahead of the second-place swimmer, Spencer LaFata, from Fordham Prep.
"It was pretty close up until the halfway point, and then I really picked up the pace and took off," said Babyak. "From then on the distance became larger and larger."
It was the first state and federation championship for Babyak; in fact, he is the first Bronxville boy to bring home gold in swimming. His time in the 500 free automatically qualified him for All-American recognition.
The New Rochelle-Bronxville team had two relay teams compete at states. The 200 free relay (Lawson, Freeman, Cushman, and Babyak) placed third, and the 400 free relay won the gold medal for public schools in a personal best time of 3:08.77.
"It was definitely a lot of fun and exciting for me individually and also for our relay team," said Babyak. "We were expecting to do pretty well in the 200, but we were not expecting to win the 400 free for public schools, so it was definitely exciting. We all swam pretty fast, the fastest all year for our splits and overall time. Up until states, our fastest time was 3:15."
Both Babyak and Cushman swam four events at states, two individual races and two relays. Babyak and Cushman placed 6th and 15th, respectively, in the 200 free, and Cushman placed 15th in the 100 backstroke. It is the third state appearance for Babyak and the second for Cushman.
Swimming on the combined New Rochelle-Bronxville high school team for the past four years has been a positive experience for both Babyak and Cushman.
"Since we are combined, we get to meet new people and form bonds with kids we would have otherwise never met," said Cushman. "I love it; it's great."
The winter season may have ended, but Ryan will continue her training for the outdoor track season, and Babyak and Cushman will compete with their club teams.
Pictured here (from top): photo 1 (rotating), Kaitlin Ryan wins the state and federation title in the 1000m (photo by J. Mitchell) and Andrew Babyak wins the state and federation title in the 500yd free (photo by T. Cushman); photo 2, Kaitlin Ryan wins the 1000m at states (photo submitted by K. Peterson); photo 3, the 400yd free relay team at the awards ceremony (photo by T. Cushman); photo 4, Tim Cushman at the state championships (photo by T. Cushman).