The season may be over, but Tyler Hall managed to pin down another huge wrestling triumph Monday night as the East Aurora senior was named recipient of the 20th Ilio DiPaolo Award.
Hall was presented the award during a dinner ceremony at Ilio DiPaolo’s that attracted an estimated 500, including a who’s who of local celebrities.
“This award is really big for me because wrestling has been the biggest part of my life since sixth grade,” Hall said. “All of my accomplishments led up to this. I worked hard in the offseason and in-season just to achieve all the goals I set for myself.”
The award is presented in honor of DiPaolo, who strongly believed and supported the values of education, athletics and community, to the area’s top wrestler as voted on by members of the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Committee.
Hall said before he committed to Penn, he knew he could be a contender to win the award. Once he got accepted into the Ivy League school, he applied for the scholarship in hopes of winning the $2,500 award to help with tuition.
Hall is definitely a worthy recipient for the award as he set the Section VI record for pinfall wins in a season with 43. He graduates with a 119-38 career record as the 220-pounder won his second straight Section VI championship. The three-sport athlete suffered his only loss in 49 matches this season in the state final. The two-year varsity football starter and team captain also has never missed making the honor roll during his academic career.
“This is a really big achievement for me because it’s the biggest recognition for wrestling I could get in Western New York,” Hall said. “It’s just awesome to know I was picked for this over other elite wrestlers in Section VI.”
Five others, including four seniors, also received awards from the scholarship committee.
Pine Valley’s Alexander Kelly, a 182-pounder, earned the Gary Castanza Award for being community-oriented. Kelly, a counselor in training for Camp Turner, posted a 46-5 record last winter and a 174-59 career mark.
The two-time Class D champion and two-time Section VI Division II runner-up is an honor roll student and member or avid participant in extracurricular activities including National Honor Society, 2014 New York State Boys State and secretary of Senior Band. The three-sport athlete has applied to Fredonia, Jamestown Community College, Niagara County CC and Alfred State.
Tonawanda’s Cody McGregor earned the right to don the mask as he received the Destroyer Wrestling Award named in honor of professional wrestler Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer. The 132-pounder went 232-32 in his career, including 45-3. The three-time Section VI champion and four-time state tournament placer finished second in the 2014 tournament and is a fine all-around wrestler. The Tonawanda High School male athlete of the year, who also plays soccer and baseball, has applied to Niagara County CC, Mercyhurst and University at Buffalo.
The Bill Hein Dedicated Wrestler Award went to Niagara Falls’ Donny McCoy Jr. The two-time Section VI champion has also won numerous championships on the club wrestling circuit, but posted a 46-6 mark as a senior, 189-46 for his scholastic career. The 120-pounder is the only Falls wrestler since 2000 to win more than one sectional title in his career. The Niagara Police Athletic League Male Athlete of Year has applied to UB, Mercyhurst, Brockport State and Oneonta State.
Lockport’s Kirkland T. Feeney received the Cauliflower Alley Club Award. The 152-pounder went 142-72 for his career and 35-7 as a senior. The two-time Section VI champion and three-time sectional runner-up is a member of the senior class council, National Honor Society and Math Honor Society. He’s also a New York Scholar Athlete Award winner.
The St. Francis Captain’s Award went to junior Johnathon Strawbrich. Strawbrich didn’t participate in football until his freshman year and earned the starting job at right tackle last season.
He also plays trumpet for the school band and is a Naval Sea Cadet who hopes to attend either the Naval Academy or West Point.