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Wrestlers Honored at 24th Annual Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Awards Night

By Matt O'Rourke
Published on May 20th, 2019 @ 10:56pm

For the 24th year in a row the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund, the Ilio DiPaolo Family, and numerous contributors & sponsors recognized the most outstanding senior wrestlers in Western New York who best exemplify what it means to be a student-athlete.

Each year since 1996, the Scholarship's Board of Directors carefully select the top student-athlete wrestlers from the recent season who are graduating seniors. Through the generosity of the DiPaolo Family the awardees, their families, and all other attendees enjoy an evening at the restaurant's banquet hall to recognize those outstanding seniors.

Bob Koshinski, owner and curator of allsportswny.com, serves as the Board's Chair of Selection Committee and hosted the event on Monday night. Mr. Koshinski was an original member of the Scholarship Fund and a friend to both the late Ilio DiPaolo and the late Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer, for whom an award is named after each.

Mr. Dennis DiPaolo helped start the Fund in 1996 to "help carry on a legacy in Ilio's name." According to Mr. DiPaolo, since the Fund began over $1.2 million have been donated to local charities and 130 high school wrestling scholarships have been awarded.

"We wanted to raise money to honor student athletes," said Buffalo Bills retired Director of Athletic Training Operations Bud Carpenter, who is the president of the Board of Directors. "And twenty-four years later, we're still honoring young men. It's a great way to honor Ilio...this is what we started, and what we believe in: honoring student athletes."

Current Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who was a Nebraska state high school wrestling champion at Millard West HS in Omaha, was the guest speaker and congratulated the awardees as well as thanked them for being strong character role models within their communities. "I think the most important part of the night are the six recipients and how cool of a privilege it is for you to be up here, after all the hard work, the sweat, the blood, the tears, as well as the stuff in the classroom and in the community that brought you up here."

Mr. Koshinski recognized the twenty-eight individuals who make up the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund Board of Directors and Selection Committee which includes a mix of former and active school administrators, Buffalo Bills personnel, former wrestlers, coaches, media members, public servants, members of the DiPaolo Family, and other various contributors.

Before handing out the final award of the evening, the Ilio DiPaolo Award, Selection Committee member and Salamanca City School District superintendent Robert Breidenstein stated that the awards were for "Leaders who happen to be wrestlers," reinforcing the values of "exceptional ability in education and a penchant for helping others" that Ilio himself believed in and held in the highest regard.

 

The awardees:

 

Ilio DiPaolo Award

Robbie Penhollow, Falconer HS

The Gary Castanza Award

Cory Day, Iroquois HS

The "Destroyer" Wrestling Award

Warren McDougald, Niagara Wheatfield HS

Bill Hein Dedicated Wrestling Award

Michael Rigerman, Pioneer HS

The Cauliflower Alley Club Award

Zach Braddell, Tonawanda HS

The Knuttila Family Award

Johnny Putney, East Aurora HS

 

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