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Who will be named the Prep Talk Coach of the Year?

Today we are unveiling the five finalists for two major honors that will be handed out at the Prep Talk Awards on June 14.

The five finalists for the Prep Talk Program of the Year, which will go to the best overall athletic program for the 2016-17 school year, were announced this morning.

Now it's time for the five finalists for the Prep Talk Coach of the Year award, which are listed in alphabetical order.

All finalists are invited to the Prep Talk Awards, and the winner will be announced at the event. Here we go:


Rich Crozier – St. Joe's hockey

St. Joe's coach Rich Crozier pumps his fist after a St. Joe's goal during the Niagara Cup championship game.
(Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Highlights: The Marauders had another dominating season - perhaps even better than last season, when they won the state title as well. The team finished 25-1-2, and has lost a total of only three games in two years.

Chris Durr – Williamsville East girls soccer, girls basketball and softball

WIlliamsville East coach Chris Durr during the basketball season -- one of his three seasons as head coach at East. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Highlights: Apparently Chris never takes a vacation, as he coached three sports once again - and two of them had great seasons. The soccer team lost in the Section VI final to Grand Island, while the softball team made to the championship game of the playoffs.

Pete Hudecki – South Park boys basketball and St. Joe's boys lacrosse

South Park coach Peter Hudecki during the Sparks' Class A-2 semifinal victory over Cheektowaga. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Highlights: Plenty of coaches do well at one school; Hudecki splits his loyalties. South Park won its first Yale Cup title in 31 years, and made it to the Section VI final for the first time in 32 years. As for St. Joe's, the Marauders won the Msgr. Martin AA regular-season and postseason titles.

Don Pieczynski – St. Mary's girls volleyball

St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski with his team prior to the Monsignor Martin semifinals. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Highlights: The Lancers had a year to remember. They swept through the competition and were ranked as the best team in Western New York. In addition, they were ranked as The News' No. 1 team of all sports in the fall's Power 10 ranking.

Bob Rosen – Williamsville North boys hockey

WIlliamsville North coach Bob Rosen during the state championship game. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Highlights: There's room in this part of the world for two state hockey champions, as the Spartans captured the title in public school play. Williamsville North relied on good defense, as they won four one-goal games on its way to the championship. It was the team's first state title since 2011.

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#PrepTalkAwards info

What: The fourth annual Prep Talk Awards – our version of Oscar Night for WNY high school sports.

When: Wednesday, June 14, 5:30 p.m.

Where: Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Conference Center.

Headliners (other than the athletes): The night features radio personalities Janet Snyder and Nicholas Picholas while former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson will be the guest speaker. News Deputy Sports Editor Keith McShea is your host.

Reservations and tickets: Contact Megan Termini at 716-849-5551 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or via

Who's invited: We will honor the Prep Talk Players of the Year in every sport that we cover – along with the All-Western New York football first team and the first-team members of the All-Western New York boys and girls basketball teams. There will also be some very special Prep Talk Awards: Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year and Program of the Year (and some surprises).

What's the night like? Here's a video wrapuup of the 2016 awards. Check out a photo gallery of the 2016 Prep Talk Awards winners as well as a Smiles photo gallery from last year's event. Here's a look back the 2016 Prep Talk Players of the Year, finalists for other Prep Talk Awards and the night's big winners.

Special Prep Talk Awards section in The Buffalo News: Published Saturday, June 17.

Who will be the Prep Talk Team of the Year? Miguel Rodriguez's final Power 10 of the fall determined our choices of the top teams from the first season of the school year. Rodriguez's final Power 10 of the winter listed our choices from the second season of 2014-15. The No. 1 in each season's Power 10 becomes a finalist for Prep Talk Team of the Year.

Sponsorship opportunities: Contact your Buffalo News sales representative or Ann Brooker at 849-4413 or

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Prep Talk Players of the Year

Girls soccer: Marissa Birzon, Williamsville East (announced May 30)

Boys soccer: Pa Lu, I-Prep (May 30)

Girls cross country: Danielle Orie, Nardin (May 31)

Boys cross country: Christopher Nowak, Sweet Home (May 31)

Girls volleyball: Samantha Burgio, Eden (June 1)

Boys volleyball: Henry Payne, Clarence (June 1)

Field hockey: Abby Ferenczy, Williamsville South (June 2)

Girls gymnastics: Zoe Kyriakopoulos, Williamsville North (June 2)

Wrestling: Laith Alsous, Lew-Port (June 3)

Rifle: Kiersten Mucha, Lancaster (June 3)

Girls swimming: Olivia Sapio, Orchard Park (June 4)

Boys swimming: Seth Farrand, Olean (June 4)

Girls hockey: Katy Knoll, Nichols (June 5)

Boys hockey: Cole Donhauser, Nichols (June 5)

Girls indoor track: Jenna Crean, Orchard Park (June 6)

Boys indoor track: Treston White, Lockport (June 6)

Girls bowling: Britney Grey, Cattaraugus/Little Valley (June 7)

Boys bowling: Nate Maloney, Niagara Wheatfield (June 7)

Program of the Year finalists: Announced June 8

Coach of the Year finalists: Announced June 8

Girls lacrosse: Coming soon

Boys lacrosse: Coming soon

Girls squash: Coming soon

Boys squash: Coming soon

Girls tennis: Coming soon

Boys tennis: Coming soon

Girls rowing: Coming soon

Boys rowing: Coming soon

Softball: Coming soon

Baseball: Coming soon

Girls rugby: Coming soon

Boys rugby: Coming soon

Girls golf: Coming soon

Boys golf: Coming soon

Girls track and field: Coming soon

Boys track and field: Coming soon

Girls three-sport athlete: Coming soon

Boys three-sport athlete: Coming soon

Fourth annual #PrepTalkAwards: Wednesday, June 14 – 5:30 p.m. at Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Conference Center.

Former Buffalo Bill Fred Jackson the guest speaker for fourth annual Prep Talk Awards

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