Today’s news:

Medals abound for Queens competitors at Games

After combining for 10 swimming medals in last year’s Empire State Games, sisters Jennifer and Andrea Illescas from East Elmhurst repeated the impressive medal count at this year’s Games in Syracuse.

For the past three years, no duo has been more dominant in the pool.

Andrea Illescas, a graduate of The Mary Louis Academy and the older of the siblings, won three gold medals, placing first in the 100 meter freestyle (1:01.85), the 200 meter fly (2:27.18) and as part of the 800 meter freestyle relay (9:04.84).

She also won a pair of silver medals, in the 100 meter fly (1:05.65) and as part of the 400 meter medley relay (4:43.40). Her lone bronze medal came in the 400 meter freestyle relay (4:12.05).

Jennifer Illescas brought home two gold medals, in the 400 meter free (4:37.15) and the 100 meter free (1:01.48) and a pair of bronze medals in the 400 meter medley relay (4:46.64), along with Queens native Mallory Cruise and in the 400 meter freestyle relay (4:14.62).


The New York City men and women Open archery team won the gold medal, placing first with 274 points. The team features three Queens residents, including Armen Lagazo, Susan Lagazo and Carolyn Yaciuk, who also won the bronze in the women’s open all around.


Flushing resident Olive Smart won three medals in women’s Open athletics. She joined Jamaica’s Latrica Dendy as part of the gold medal winning 4x400 relay team (3:49.89). She also took the silver medal in the women’s open 800 meter (2:15.17) and the bronze in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles (1:03.68).

Erin Taylor from Elmhurst captured two silver medals, in the 5K racewalk (27.17) and the 20K racewalk (2:01.43).

On the men’s side, Kew Gardens resident Jimmy Pino was the borough’s top medalists, winning three medals. Pino was part of the Open gold medal winning 4x100 relay team (40.70), he also took the bronze in the 100 meter (10.92) and the 200 meter (21.65).

In men’s Scholastic athletics, Dajue Mendez from Cambria Heights won three medals, including two golds. He captured the top prize as part of the 4x100 relay team (42.31) and the 4x400 relay team (3:19.26). Mendez placed second in the 400 meter (50.88).


Bellerose’s Ian Lang was once again king of the lanes, becoming the first bowler to repeat as Open men’s all-around champion. The St. John’s graduate rolled a 234 in the eighth and final game to finish with a total score of 2,120, outscoring Central’s T.J. Mento by 107 points.

Lang was also part of the bronze medal winning mixed double City squad.


Julian Bednarek from Queens won the bronze medal in the canoe single 200 meter (55.24).


The New York City Open men and women’s cycling team, featuring Jamaica’s Eugene Boronow, captured the silver medal with a total score of 1,676.


Ronaldo Balboa from Queens won the silver medal in men’s Open foil, falling to Long Island’s Justin Meehan 15-5 in the final. Balboa finished with a 9-4 record.


Former Long Island City standout Chris Johnson helped lead the New York City men’s Open gymnastics team to the gold medal, as he took the silver medal in the vault and the bronze in the all around competition.

On the women’s side, College Point native Liz Kotler-Albert took the bronze in the Open vault.


Queens resident Alismer Mukmtarov won the gold medal in the men’s Open 66kg (146 lbs.) final, defeating Long Island’s Taku Taira by choke. Viktor Podgorbunskiy from Rego Park won the gold medal in the men’s Open 100 kg (220 lbs.), beating Hudson Valley’s Bob Janelli.


The women’s Open rugby team, featuring Jamaica’s Rebecca Brafman and Queens native Annie Collier, won the silver medal. The team finished 5-1 with its lone loss coming in the gold medal game, dropping a 22-5 decision to Adirondack.


Led by a large contingent of current and former St. John’s players, the New York City Open women’s volleyball team saw its string of seven straight gold medals stopped by Western, which won the gold medal match, 25-20, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19.

The team, coached by St. John’s assistant Mario Treibitch, featured Red Storm coach and Bellerose native Joanne Persico-Smith, former standouts Olga Roudovski and Tori Migliore, current players Robyn Kurasaki, Yana Rubin and Jackie Ahlers, as well as Jamaica resident Tana McMarrow and Jackson Heights’ Claudia Marmelejo.

The men’s Open team, featuring Queens resident Kert Fernandez, brought home the bronze medal, beating Long Island, 27-25, 27-16.

Water Polo

The City men’s Open water polo team won its third straight gold medal and ninth consecutive medal by beating Hudson Valley in the title match, 17-10. The team features Chris Gahn from Rockaway, Ali Gozluk and Serghei Vaculeac from Rockaway Beach and Belle Harbor’s Matthew Quigley.

The Scholastic men’s water polo team, which includes Bryan Quigleyand Stephen Werner from Belle Harbor and Ozone Park resident Matthew Kehoe, won the bronze medal. The team was 3-2 and defeated Adirondack, 6-4 to finish third.


Joe Yu from Rego Park won the gold medal in the men’s Open bantamweight competition with a lift of 210 kg (462.96 lbs.). Middle Village resident Vadim Savchuk won the lightweight gold with a lift of 232.5 kg (512.57 lbs.).


Astoria resident Guy Codio won the 128 lb Greco Roman men’s Open silver medal by beating Western’s Geoff Hilchey. Richmond Hill’s Clifford Medina won the silver medal in the 129 lb. Greco Roman.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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