How does a 45-0 season in wrestling get any better?
Drew Hull had the answer Thursday night after being named the winner of the 18th annual Ilio DiPaolo Award during a dinner at the famed wrestler’s restaurant in Blasdell. DiPaolo was a man who strongly believed and supported values of family, education, athletics and community. The award is presented to Western New York’s top wrestler as voted on by the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship committee.
The Roy-Hart senior will use the $2,500 scholarship toward his education at the University of Virginia, a top-20 program which competes in the ACC.
Hull was one of five senior wrestlers recognized. “There’s a lot of talented wrestlers in this group and I’m just honored to be one of them,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool it has an academic side to it, which is equally important, so I think it’s great to be seen with great wrestlers and great scholars.”
Hull had a remarkable senior year, not only going undefeated, but having only two points scored against him all season. He won the Division II New York State title at 145 pounds. A two-point takedown was just enough for him to earn a victory over Frank Garcia of Norwich in the final.
He ends his career as Roy-Hart’s record holder for most wins, eclipsing the previous record held by Lou Rosselli, who later wrestled in the Olympics. Hull finished his six-year career 176-26.
Two Fredonia wrestlers took home awards as Chris Saden accepted the Gary Castanza Award and Jude Gardner Jr. was tapped for the Bill Hein Dedicated Wrestler Award.
Saden will likely continue his career in the fall at Jamestown Community College. Academically, he’s ranked No. 3 in his class. He finished 46-4 this season, ending his career 148-44. He placed sixth in the state at 220 pounds this winter.
Gardner will wrestle this fall at Niagara County Community College. He placed third in the state at 145 pounds to cap a 47-4 season. He is a member of Fredonia’s 200 Win Club and 100 Pin Club.
Lancaster’s Eric Lewandowski, who took home the Destroyer Wrestling Award, has signed a partial athletic and academic scholarship with Division II Gannon University. He plans to study aviation with the goal of becoming a pilot. Lewandowski reached the state meet four times in his career, finishing second twice including this year at 145 pounds in Division I. He was 43-7 this year, ending 183-30 in five varsity seasons.
The Cauliflower Alley Club Award went to Anthony Liberatore of Williamsville South. He placed fifth at states at 182 and became the first wrestler at South to have 40 wins in one season. He had 88 pins among his 152 career victories. An all-around athlete, he’s been a four-year starter in football and lacrosse.
The dinner was sponsored by the Buffalo Bills, Sysco Foods, Polymer Conversions, the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation, Buffalo Spine Surgery and the McCollum-Christoferson Group.