The 27th annual Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund Awards Night was held at the DiPaolo family restaurant in Blasdell on Monday.

Seven WNY high school senior wrestler student-athletes were recognized for both high personal wrestling achievement as well as outstanding character, scholastic, commitment, and citizenship achievement as well.

DiPaolo Scholarship selection committee chairman Bob Koshinski hosted the event. Mr. Koshinski first started by welcoming the student-athletes, attendees, contributors, as well as recognizing Buffalo Bills players Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle who were in attendance.

Deacon Tim Maloney added a prayer for American service men & women, first responders, and a special reflection for the individuals whose lives were lost on Saturday, May 14th on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.

The Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund president, Mr. Bud Carpenter, also addressed the tragedy and pledged that the Fund would make a donation to the families of those were lost last Saturday.

“Tonight is about honoring these young men, but a bigger part of tonight is honoring the families that have lost so much,” said Carpenter. “We want to be there to help the families both financially and spiritually…that’s what western New York is about…that’s what Ilio is about.”

The Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund was started in 1996 to honor the late Ilio DiPaolo who was a wrestler and an advocate for the sport. To date, the Fund has raised over $1.2 million for numerous local charities and organizations generously supported by individuals, organizations, and businesses.

According to the committee, Ilio was a man who strongly believed in and supported the values of family, education, athletics, and community. The annual Awards Night is intended to honor deserving student-athletes who demonstrate these values and to help support them as they transition out of high school and become leaders within the community.

Former Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who was recently signed by the Minnesota Vikings, was involved in area wrestling before departing the team this offseason. Phillips was an outstanding high school wrestler, and this year introduced his own scholarship fund as part of the DiPaolo Scholarship group.

In a pre-recorded video, Phillips said:

“I’m so thankful for the values that wrestling taught me, not just to help me succeed in the NFL but at life. Remember, it’s not becoming an NFL player or a Division I wrestler, or a national champion or state champion that is the most important thing, but it’s the person that you have to be in order to become an NFL player, Division I wrestler, state champion. You have to be tougher, more hard working, more dedicated, more trustworthy, and have higher character than 99% of any of the other people you are going to meet.”

Awardees

Harrison Phillips #97 Award

For one who exemplifies qualities in academics, commitment, community, and wrestling achievement

Presented to Konrad Krzyszton – Frontier High School

The Knuutila Family Award

For an individual who shows characteristics of an ‘overachiever,’ who is persistent, has experienced a setback, yet persevered and never stopped trying to achieve goals

Presented to Brian Bielec – Grand Island High School

The Cauliflower Alley Club Award

Awarded to an outstanding student, outstanding wrestler, and outstanding leader

Presented to Carson Alberti – Depew High School

Bill Hein Dedicated Wrestling Award

For one who displays supreme love and commitment to the sport of wrestling

Presented to Travis Browning – Frontier High School

The “Destroyer” Wrestling Award

Presented to an all-around ‘hammer’ amongst WNY high school wrestlers

Presented to Dakota Mascho – Portville High School

Gary Castanza Award

For an individual who is well rounded, community & family oriented, and high wrestling achievement

Presented to Michael Schiffhauer – Iroquois High School

Ilio DiPaolo Award

For a college bound senior who is an accomplished wrestler through dedication, skill, and sportsmanship while maintaining high scholastic and citizenship standards

Presented to Dontae Hoose – Southwestern High School

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