Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School graduates swept the Siena College Rookie of the Year awards, with Aidan Gillooley honored for his distance running exploits, and Lydia DeLano for her stellar diving achievements.
With colleges closed due to COVID-19, the first-year student-athletes became aware of their awards Sunday evening during a virtual reveal ceremony that the Siena athletic department presented on its Twitter page.
“They had a cool video, and it was very suspenseful,” said Gillooley, a 19-year-old finance major who ran cross country and indoor track. “I was a little surprised because this class is so athletic. To see my name meant a lot as far as representing my high school and my community.”
Gillooley and DeLano were both among five finalists for the awards.
“He sent me a text that said, ‘Who would have thought?’ ” said DeLano, a 19-year-old nursing major. “I texted him back and said the same thing. I think we might be the only Burnt Hills athletes that are on teams here.”
“To share it with Lydia is just great,” Gillooley said. “To have two athletes win it from the same high school, that has to be pretty rare. Kudos to her. She had an amazing season.”
Gillooley turned in two of them. His indoor season included an 8:25.79 in the 3,000-meter run at a meet at Boston University for the third-fastest time in program history.
“Six seconds off the [3,000] record,” said Gillooley, who qualified individually for the ECAC/IC4A indoor championships. “Next year, it’s a goal of mine.”
Gillooley ran the 1,600 anchor leg in the distance medley relay, and PR’d with a 4:15, when Siena placed third at the MAAC Indoor Championships.
“To be a freshman anchor leg in the DMR came with a lot of responsibility, but it was a really cool experience,” Gillooley said.
Gillooley said one of his cross country highlights came in early September at the Siena Invite, when he placed fifth and the Saints took the team title.
“My first 8K, finishing top five and us winning, that felt great,” Gillooley said. “There’s no better feeling than to celebrate with your teammates.”
Gillooley made the MAAC All-Rookie Team after placing 12th (ninth among scoring runners) at the MAAC Cross Country Championships. His effort helped Siena tie its best team finish at that event with a second place.
“Individual awards are great, but I run for the team,” said Gillooley, who helped Burnt Hills win a trio of state Class B cross country titles while twice earning all-state first-team recognition. “I run for the program.”
DeLano was the Siena aquatic program’s first diver since 2016, and became its first diver ever to be named the MAAC Championship Meet Rookie of the Meet when she placed eighth in the 3-meter and 10th in the 1-meter competitions.
Earlier in the season, she placed first in the 3-meter at the ECAC Winter Championships and was tabbed Diver of the Meet.
“I definitely nailed all of my dives at that one,” DeLano said.
DeLano shined despite Siena’s lack of a diving coach. She said during the season three times a week she worked out at Shenendehowa High School with its diving coach, Dennis Hogan.
“Burnt Hills doesn’t have a diving board,” DeLano said. “I did the same thing with him [Hogan] throughout high school.”
DeLano began her diving career as a high school sophomore after previously competing in gymnastics. She placed third as a junior and senior at the Section II Division 2 swimming and diving championship meet.
“I was pretty excited. Kind of surprised,” DeLano said of winning Siena’s Female Rookie of the Year Award. “It’s pretty cool when you think about where I came from.”
DeLano posted several regular season wins, and was named MAAC Diver of the Week in early February after sweeping the 1-meter (236.75) and 3-meter (278.20) competitions in a meet with St. Francis while setting personal-best scores for six dives.
The other finalists for the 2019-20 Siena College Female Rookie of the Year Award were volleyball player Gracie Halley, basketball player Julia Hauer, swimmer Jessica Shine, and cross country/track competitor Sophia Vinciguerra.
The other finalists for the 2019-20 Siena College Male Rookie of the Year Award were basketball players Gary Harris Jr. and Jordan King, tennis player Matt Nardone and golfer Jack Tobin.