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Area Wrestlers, Coaches, and Contributors Honored at Awards Banquet

The Western New York Wrestling Coaches Association (WNYWCA) held its 15th Annual ‘Luncheon of Champions’ on Sunday, March 3rd at Ilio DiPaolo’s. The luncheon essentially ends the high school wrestling season in Western New York each year and allows the WNYWCA the chance to recognize wrestlers and coaches for their efforts at the end of the season as well. Also, the Association hands out of a series of awards to contributors and inducts its newest members into the WNYWCA Hall of Fame.

Former Lockport head coach and current WNYWCA chairman Joe Scapelliti again hosted the event on Sunday in front of a crowd of about 200 people. Before recognizing the outstanding wrestlers and coaches of the 2018-2019 season, Mr. Scapelliti first recognized the work of the Wrestling Review of Western New York, the Hall of Fame committee, guest attendee in SUNY Brockport’s longtime head wrestling coach Don Murray, and asked for a moment of silence for the late Mrs. Linda Knuutila. Mr. Scapelliti also recognized and thanked the DiPaolo Family and staff for their continued support of high school wrestling in Western New York and for the outstanding banquet that they put on each year.

Mr. Scapelliti touched on the Association’s mission of helping to improve wrestling in Western New York as a whole. He emphasized the increasing competitiveness of local wrestling and addressed the strengthening bonds of the wrestling community across WNY. The Association’s annual golf tournament and the 3rd Annual Ilio DiPaolo Nickel City Duals at Riverworks are being planned and are the two biggest offseason fundraisers for the WNYWCA.

The Section’s three recent New York State champions in Iroquois’s Cory Day, Falconer’s Robbie Penhollow, and Pioneer’s Mike Rigerman each received special recognition and commemorative plaques on behalf of the WNYWCA. In addition, each of the area’s state tournament qualifiers and place winners in attendance were recognized by their coaches at the end of the program.

Each of the eight league champion teams and head coaches were recognized and awarded plaques:

ECIC I – Clarence, head coach Jason Chase

ECIC II – Pioneer, head coach Chris Edwards

ECIC III – Tonawanda, head coach Dan Bishop

CCAA I – Falconer, head coach Drew Wilcox

CCAA II – Portville, head coach Matt Milne

Niagara-Orleans – Newfane, head coach Matt Lingle

Niagara Frontier League – Niagara Wheatfield, head coach Rick Sweney

Msgr. Martin HS Athletic Assoc. – St. Francis, head coach Mike Messore

The Coach of the Year in each league:

ECIC I – Jason Chase, Clarence

ECIC II – Chris Edwards, Pioneer

ECIC III – Dan Bishop, Tonawanda

CCAA I – Drew Wilcox, Falconer

CCAA II – Matt Milne, Portville

Niagara-Orleans – Matt Lingle, Newfane

Niagara Frontier League – DJ Giancola, Niagara Falls

Msgr. Martin HS Athletic Assoc. – Mike Messore, St. Francis

Rookie Coach of the Year– Wally Maziarz, North Tonawanda

Assistant Coach of the Year– Jordan McGregor, Tonawanda

Ilio DiPaolo Family Commitment to Wrestling Award

This award goes to a coach or former coach who has gone or continues to go “above and beyond” doing whatever is necessary to promote or helping to promote the sport, the athletes, or the WNYWCA.

2019 recipient: Jim Lamb

Jon Vesper Memorial Award

In recognition of your passion for the sport of wrestling and your tireless and unselfish efforts as a coach in supporting and promoting wrestling and wrestlers in Western New York.

2019 recipient: Chris Heximer, head coach, Williamsville South

Al Feuz Memorial Contributor’s Award

In recognition of your unselfish dedication, commitment, and work for the betterment of wrestlers and wrestling on all levels in Western New York.

2019 recipient: Brian DeYoung

Media Award – Matt Johnson, The Section 6 Wrestlecast

Division I Champion of Champions Award – Warren McDougald, Niagara Wheatfield

Division II Champion of Champions Award – Cory Day, Iroquois

2018-2019 WNYWCA Hall of Fame Inductees

Sam Williams (posthumously) – Contributor, official; accomplished college referee, helped found the US Wrestling Officials Association

Jacob Schaus – Falconer – Wrestler; 3x NYS place winner, 1994 NYS champion and National HS champion

Chris Conti – Fredonia – Wrestler; 3x NYS place winner, 2006 NYS champion

Alex Conti – Fredonia – Coach; 18 years as head coach at Fredonia, record 238-54-1; major contributor to the growth of girls & women’s wrestling

Greg Betts – Fredonia – Assistant coach, 1995-2013; helped coach 2011 NYS #1 small school, 8 league titles, 9 sectional titles

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