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The Gym Bag: Tunnel To Towers Climb, NYC Amateur winners and Wagner baseball’s successful season

May 25, 2023May 25, 2023

John Bonanno completed the 2023 Tunnel To Towers Climb last Sunday. (Photo courtesy of John Bonanno)

Dongan Hills resident John Bonanno competed in his fourth Tunnel To Towers Climb last Sunday at the Freedom Tower in Manhattan.

The 62-year-old, who is the captain of Richmond Family Court, was sponsored by the NYPD which he joined to climb the Freedom Tower some years ago.

He completed the 104-story climb in 36 minutes.

"It's always a great day for a great cause," said Bonanno. "Climbing for all those heroes who we lost on that day sacrificing their lives to save others. And all who are still dying from the after effects of that day."

The Tunnel to Towers Climb is another fundraiser for the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation, which also conducts the Tunnel to Towers Run in September.

Siller, a firefighter assigned to Brooklyn's Squad 1, voluntarily raced through the Battery Tunnel on foot, carrying 60 pounds of gear to respond to the emergency at the Twin Towers on 9/11, when he lost his life with hundreds of others first responders.

New York City Amateur results

Jack Simon, a recent St. John's University graduate, came from three strokes behind in the final round, to outlast 2018 Champion Matt Lowe in a one-hole playoff, to win the Men's Division of the New York City Amateur.

Simon fired three straight under-par rounds (71, 69 and 70) to fire a 6-under par 210 total, but stumbled with a bogie on his final hole; and then had to wait for the first-round leader, Lowe, and second-round leader, Thomas Lee, to finish to see if his score was enough for the win.

Lee had the lead after eagling the par 5 tenth, and birdying the par 4 eleventh, but he stumbled with three bogies in the final seven holes to finish third at 4-under par. Meanwhile, Lowe was at 7-under par heading into the substantially shortened Par 5 17th hole, where he hit the ball to fifteen feet behind the hole. Unfortunately, he raced his first putt six feet passed the hole, and then missed the comebacker, and ultimately finished in a tie for the lead.

In the playoff, back on the 10th hole, Simon struck his second shot onto the green to about twenty feet. Meanwhile, Lowe was short of the green, and his poor chip finished twenty feet from the hole. When Lowe missed his putt, Simon made a two-putt birdie and took his first championship.

"This is such a great event. It is my first time playing, but I saw all the great names on that trophy, and I am so honored to have added my name to that list," stated the new champion.

Harris Podvey copped the Senior Division with a two-round total of 143, while Staten Islander Rodney Stilwell won the Super Senior Division for the second straight year with a two-round total of 149.

Check out the official results at

Wagner College baseballers go 32-24

The Wagner College baseball squad recently completed its most successful season in recent memory by compiling a 32-24 record, including 21 conference wins.

The team, coached by Craig Noto, finished its season one win shy of their second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.

The No. 2 seeded Seahawks fell to No. 1 seed Central Connecticut State, 12-3, in the 2023 Northeast Conference (NEC) Baseball Tournament final which ended their season.

Junior Chris Conniff, sophomore Frankie Wright and Melfi were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Conniff batted a team-leading .370, while David Melfi batted .340. Cody Bey batted .318.

Wright (5-3) led the team with a 2.90 ERA. Connor Heyden (3.93 ERA) paced the teams in wins, recording nine in 10 decisions.

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The Gym Bag publishes on Wednesdays on the web and will appear in the Staten Island Advance shortly after. This is where we will feature short stories, tidbits and morsels about college players and teams and adult sports news.

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