New York - Upstate Chapter

Official State Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Upstate New York Chapter May 2024 Newsletter

Cover photo courtesy of Bob Blair

28th Annual Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Awards

On Tuesday, May 21st, the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund honored outstanding senior athletes from Section VI and Msgr. Martin High School Athletic Association (MMHSAA) at its annual awards banquet held at the namesake restaurant in Blasdell. The 2024 awards and winners are:

Ilio DiPaolo Award - Cam Catrabone, Williamsville North HS

Gary Castanza Award - Gage LaPlante, St. Francis HS

The "Destroyer" Award - Matt Trim, Maple Grove HS

Bill Hein Dedicated Wrestling Award - Austin Zimmerman, St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute

The Cauliflower Alley Club Award - Kenji Walters, Southwestern HS

The Knuutila Family Award - Neves Hoose, Southwestern HS

Harrison Phillips Award - Jack MacDonald, Orchard Park HS

Baldwinsville CSD Honors Coach Leo Johnson

On June 6th the Baldwinsville Central School will dedicate the newly renovated and expanded Baker High School Gymnasium to Leo Johnson, the long-time wrestling coach of the Bees. Leo has been the wrestling coach and Athletic Director at Baldwinsville for many years and was enshrined in the Upstate New York Chapter’s Hall of Fame in 1998. The former athletes and friends of wrestling will hold a celebration on June 7th honoring Leo at 6pm at the Pasta’s on the Green in Baldswinville. The celebration will be open to all who would like to congratulate Leo for his exceptional career in athletics at Baldwinsville. The name of Leo Johnson has been synonymous with wrestling since he started his career in 1960 at East Syracuse and concluded it at Baldwinsville.

Anthony Saraceni, President of Baldwinsville Kiwanis Club, wrote this honoring about Leo … “Leo Johnson, a remarkable individual who has dedicated his life to coaching and mentoring athletes in Baldwinsville, NY, deserves to be honored for his immense contributions. As a wrestling coach and athletic director, Leo has positively impacted countless lives and shaped the future of our community’s sports programs. It is only fitting that we recognize his extraordinary achievements by naming the Baldwinsville gymnasium after him.”

“Leo’s influence as a coach extends far beyond the wrestling mat. His unwavering commitment to excellence has inspired generations of athletes to push their limits and strive for greatness both on and off the field. Under his guidance, numerous wrestlers have achieved state championships, earning recognition not only for themselves but also for our beloved town.”

Section V Hall of Fame Celebration

On May 15, 2024 the Section V Hall of Fame Committee under the guidance of the Frank Marotta held their induction ceremony at Red Fedele’s Brook House restaurant in Rochester, NY. The following people were inducted  that evening … Mike Cronmiller, Sr. – Marshall /Lilac/MCC): Ken Juergens - (Hilton High School); Mike McInally – (Byron-Bergen High School); Leo Rhodes – (official); Dean Salvaggio – (Webster High School), and Matt Sheldon – (Hornell).

Mike Cronmiller Sr. – Mike will be inducted posthumously. Mike is an alumnus of John Marshall High in Rochester where he was captain of the wrestling team. He later competed at Olivet College and participated in the 1964 Olympic trials. After earning his doctorate, he taught at Monroe Community College and coached wrestling. His wrestlers brought national prominence to the school. He coached Greco and Freestyle teams in international competition. Mike started the Rochester Lilac Wresting Club which gave opportunities to many outstanding area wrestlers. He also coached at the high school level at East Rochester and Livonia. He is a member of the Region II Jr. College Hall of Fame, City-Catholic League Hall of Fame an Olivet College Hall of Fame.

Ken Juergens (Hilton) – Ken wrestled under Hall of Fame coaches Al Krotz and Chuck Partridge. He was team captain and an outstanding wrestler. He later wrestled at Division I US Military Academy at West Point where he a starter and 3 year varsity letter winner. He was 10th Mountain Division Battalion Commander and that Battalion wrestling team was undefeated and won the Sports Commander-In-chief Award twice. He retired from the US Army with the rank of Colonel.

Mike McInally (Byron-Bergen) – Mike was a 4 time Section V Class Champion and a 3 time NYS Qualifier Champion. He was NY State Tournament Champion in 2006 and runner up in 2004 and 2005. He won numerous invitational tournaments during his high school career, often winning Outstanding Wrestler awards. While attending RIT he won the RIT Invitational, Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championship and NY State Intercollegiate Championship. He was a 2 time All American, finishing second twice at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. He currently runs the Mongoose Wrestling Club and provides training for all age groups.

Leo Rhodes (Official) – Leo has been a Section V wrestling official for 28 years and also officiates on the college level. He has officiated at 11 NY State Tournaments and at the NY State Dual Meet Championships. He has served as Vice President and President of the Wrestling Officials Association of Section 5 and currently is a member of the Executive Council. His achievents and contributions were recognized when he was awarded the Bernabi and Terry Justice Awards. Leo is the founder of the City-Catholic Wrestling Association and set up their Hall of Fame He also served as President of the United Sports Boards Council and negotiated contracts with Section V on behalf of all sports officials.

Dean Salvaggio (Webster Schroeder) - Dean coached at Greece Olympia before moving on to a long career at Webster Schroeder where he had 254 career wins, 22 representatives to the NY State Wrestling Tournament where he had 2 state champions and 12 place finishers. He had dozens of Monroe County and Class Sectional champions. Based on his high school career he was inducted into the City-Catholic League Wrestling Hall of Fame. At the University of at Buffalo, Dean was a NCAA Division III All American 3 times and a national finalist.

Matt Sheldon (Hornell) – Matt coached Hornell wrestling from 1988-2006 and built the program into one of Section V prominence. He sent 20 of his wrestlers to the NY State Wrestling Tournament. One was a State champion, 2 were runners-up and others placed. His teams won 3 LCAA League titles, 3 LCAA Tournament titles, 3 Steuben County team titles, 4 Sullivan Trail Conference titles and 3 Section V Class championships as well as many invitational tournament championships. His dual meet record was 146-36-2. Matt is also a member of the LCAA Hall of Fame and Hornell High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Onondaga Community College Hires First Men's and Women's Wrestling Coach

Syracuse - College wrestling is back in Onondaga County and the center of Section III as OCC has hired Zachary Gifford as the very first head coach of both the men's and women's wrestling teams. The College announced in January 2024 that both men's and women's programs will get off the ground starting with the winter 2024 season. Gifford is a native of Deposit, NY and wrestled collegiately at SUNY Cortland. OCC Athletic Director Mike Borsz said in a statement "'I'm excited to welcome Zach as OCC's first ever Head Wrestling Coach.  There has been a lot of positive energy within the wrestling community since our announcement to add men's and women's wrestling to our sport sponsorship, and Zach is the right person to harness that energy and get our programs operating, competing, and winning. I look forward to working with Coach Gifford."

For more on Coach Gifford and the new wrestling program at OCC please visit the below links:

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