Lombardi, Quaglia claim top honors at CDSWOY gala

Averill Park three-sport star Michelina Lombardi gives her acceptance speech as the 2022 Capital District Sports Women of the Year winner in the high school category Monday in Schenectady Aug. 8, 2022.

Averill Park three-sport star Michelina Lombardi gives her acceptance speech as the 2022 Capital District Sports Women of the Year winner in the high school category Monday in Schenectady Aug. 8, 2022.

SCHENECTADY – Michelina Lombardi said she was thrilled to be among the 10 recently graduated Section II high school student-athletes honored Monday night at the Capital District Sports Women of the Year Awards Gala at Proctor’s GE Theatre.

The 17-year-old Le Moyne College commit never expected her name to be called for a second time late in the event, thinking one of the other multi stars would get that accolade.

“I was shocked,” Lombardi said afterward. “There are so many other great students. Great athletes.”

Count the modest Lombardi among them.  Monday she became the second Averill Park student-athlete to receive the CDSWOY organization’s Grand Scholastic Woman of the Year award in the gala’s three-year run.

Lydia Ware was the first overall scholastic division winner from Averill Park in 2020. Clare Howard of Taconic Hills was the 2021 scholastic division overall winner, with the award based on community service as well academic and athletic prowess.

“In retrospect, heading into high school, my number one goal was to excel as a person, student and athlete,” Lombardi said. “I knew if I worked hard and put one foot in front of the other, I would succeed.”

Lombardi was honored time and again for her athletic accomplishment in three sports. With her tough defense and timely points she helped Averill Park win three Section II Class A basketball titles, and this past season she was a key figure in the Warriors drive to the state championship. She showed all-star form playing goalkeeper for the school’s soccer team, and excelled on the track and in the field while displaying great versatility. She ranks in the top 10 all-time at AP in the shot put, 400 run, 800 run and high jump.

“Michelina has been an integral part of our basketball team for four years,” Averill Park athletic director Mark Bubniak said last November when Lombardi signed her commitment papers to attend Le Moyne, where the guard will continue her basketball career, major in biology and minor in Spanish. “She is a multi-sport athlete who is also the President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. In my eight years here at Averill Park we have never had someone who embodies everything that we want in a student-athlete more than Michelina Lombardi.”

Lombardi earned a 4.0 GPA and in each of her four years at Averill Park and graduated eighth out of 225 students. President of her class all four years and a National Honor Society member, Lombardi received a slew of academic achievement awards in a variety of fields in her illustrious career.

Away from school she coaches youth sports and is active with the elderly and within her church.

“My time management skills are key,” Lombardi said. “If you divide up your time, you can conquer all of the things you want.”

CDSWOY scholastic division awards also went to Brigid Duffy of Queensbury, Rebecca Hall of Maple Hill, Kelsey Meca of Mayfield, Zionna Perez-Tucker of Mohonasen, Carlie Rzeszotarski of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Heather Schmidt of Niskayuna, Cameryn Shultes of Middleburgh, Ayaka Suesada of Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, and Sadie Tavares of Schuylerville.

“Without the implications of Title IX 50 years ago, none of us would be here,” noted Tavares.

The scholastic cast included a national rowing champion in Schmidt, a state volleyball champion in Rzeszotarski and a state running champion in Perez-Tucker.

“Everyone put in so much work to get here today,” said the Stanford-bound Schmidt, who also played basketball at Niskayuna.

“It’s not easy to be a top student-athlete,” said Suesada, a Syracuse University commit who’s athletic career at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School included a stint last season with its boys’ basketball team. “We should be proud of ourselves.” 

Swim star Colleen Quaglia received the CDSWOY organization’s Grand Collegiate Woman of the Year award, becoming the second College of Saint Rose standout to do so.

“For the majority of people it’s the support system that’s so important,” Quaglia said of the 13 individuals who were honored Monday night including three in the collegiate division. “If you are a competitive person, it helps. You don’t want to lose.”

Quaglia was a three-time All-American swimmer at Saint Rose who recorded a 4.0 GPA both as an undergraduate and graduate student in accounting and received the 2022 Northeast 10 Conference Female Scholar Athlete of the Year award. Among her many honors, the Albany Academy graduate and East Greenbush native was also selected the 2022 Saint Rose Athletics Department Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“I was extremely happy,” Quaglia said of receiving the Collegiate Woman of the Year award. “Swimming  not always gets announced at these events.”

Quaglia won the 500-yard freestyle, 400-yard individual medley and 200-yard butterfly at the 2022 NE10 Championships while meeting NCAA provisional qualifying standards in each event. She holds eight individual Saint Rose school records and is part of three record-holding relay teams.

“I am the youngest of three girls,” said Quaglia, who earned three academic All-American honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America and two from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. “I always had to show myself. I am an insanely goal-oriented person, and setting goals set me up for success.”

Additional CDSWOY collegiate division awards went to Katie Falotico of the University at Albany and Grace Heiting of Union College.

“This is the cream of the cream of the crop,” CDSWOY president and founder Eric McDowell said of Monday’s cast of honorees.

In 2021, Hallie Klosterman of Russell Sage College secured the Grand Collegiate Woman of the Year award, and in 2020 Morgan Burchhardt of The College of Saint Rose was the inaugural recipient.

“It’s really tremendous what this event captivates,” Burchhardt said. “These young women are rock stars.”

Lindsey Jacobellis, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion in snowboarding, served as the virtual guest speaker Monday night. Entertainment for the CDSWOY Awards Gala was provided by members of the acclaimed Empire State Youth Orchestra.

Categories: Sports, Sports


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