The Binghamton University Events Center was crowded with student-athletes on Monday night dressed in formal wear in honor of the 72nd-Annual Varsity Awards Banquet. The ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of student-athletes, particularly the 83 graduating seniors who will be leaving BU and embarking on their post-collegiate endeavors. Four of these seniors, Alex Brion, Oyin Adewale, Ludovico Cestarollo and Gaby Alicea, were handpicked for the magnitude of their athletic and academic accomplishments.
Brion earned the John Bilos Alumni Award for his career achievements as a standout sprinter for the men’s swimming and diving team. He was named the America East (AE) Men’s Swimmer of the Week three times over the course of his four years on the team and holds three Binghamton pool records, including the 50 free (20.90). He also led the team to two second-place finishes at the AE Championships, as a runner-up in the 50 and 100 free in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
“Its been four years of 20 hours a week,” Brion said. “For it to be over is just a surreal feeling, and I’m proud of how close the men’s and women’s teams have become, especially this season.”
Adewale said she was overcome by a similar sensation of surreal, bittersweet gratitude as she walked to the stage to accept the Jessie A. Godfrey Award, bestowed upon athletes for their athletic accomplishments and leadership initiative. As a thrower for the women’s track and field team, she was named the Women’s Most Outstanding Field Performer after capturing the weight-throw and shot put titles at the AE Indoor Championships last season. This year, she broke her own program record and placed third in shot put at the ECAC/IC4A Indoor Track and Field Championships with a distance of 49-11.25.
“I’ve definitely not only grown as an athlete but as an individual as well,” Adewale said. “My coaches pushed me every single day, my teammates pushed me every single day to become the best student-athlete I could be, so, Binghamton, I really can’t thank you enough.”
Senior track and field and cross country distance runner Savoy Curry and Cestarollo of the men’s tennis team won the Academic Achievement Awards for earning the highest GPAs in the department (3.966 and 3.976, respectively). Cestarollo also earned the Jake Pitler Award for his athletic accomplishments and team leadership. The senior was a MAC Newcomer of the Year in 2016, first team all-conference selection in 2017 and was voted to the Mid-American Conference all-conference team this year. He accrued 15 single wins this season and created an app to improve team communication.
“Its just been an amazing experience,” Cestarollo said. “I couldn’t imagine achieving this four years ago, coming to a new country … I didn’t know what to expect, and to achieve this award is such a great honor.”
Outside hitter and female recipient of the John Bilos Alumni Award Alicea echoed these sentiments.
“It’s honestly been a dream,” Alicea said. “Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to play [Division I] volleyball — that’s what I saw on TV and that’s what I wanted to do, and being here and being with my team was honestly a dream come true.”
Alicea has been an instrumental member of the volleyball team since her freshman year, registering 1,216 career kills, the third-most in program history. Alicea is just the second player in program history to be named to the AE all-conference first team four times; the first was Jacki Kane, ‘07.
The senior was also one of the four female finalists for Athlete of the Year, alongside freshman track and field and cross country distance runner Aziza Chigatayeva, senior basketball player Rebecca Carmody and freshman diver Amanda McGraw. The male finalists included redshirt junior infielder Alex Baratta and junior pitcher Ben Anderson of baseball, redshirt freshman wrestler Lou DePrez and freshman basketball player Sam Sessoms. The Athlete of the Year award winners will be announced after the conclusion of the spring seasons.
To close out the night, the banquet culminated with the showing of a highlight video that captured the spirit of the event and its mission: to recognize all of BU’s student-athletes for their hard work in the academic and athletic spheres.