Friends of Section 9 Wrestling Awards Dinner

Wow. What an honor.

Tonight, I received the Section 9 Person of the Year award during the Friends of Section 9 Wrestling dinner at Kuhl’s Highland House in Middletown.

It’s been an honored and a privilege to cover Section 9 wrestling for the past 15 years at the Times Herald-Record.

Section 9 wrestling chairman Jeff Cuilty said before he presented me with the award that the Friends of Section 9 Wrestling thought that it was my best season of writing and I can’t disagree.

So many great stories. Thanks to Valley Central’s Mack Phillips, Newburgh Free Academy’s Mike DeCapua and Damani Burns, Middletown’s Joe Humphrey, Draven Nieves and coach Jason Lichtenstein, Warwick’s Ryan Ferro, Liberty’s Kevin Morgans, Highland’s Mike Feliciano and referees Ron Gannello and John Scesa for giving me the opportunity to write stories that matter. Thanks to all wrestlers and coaches for the interview time during an incredible season.

There was certainly plenty to write about. Minisink Valley finished as the top-ranked team in the state. Monroe-Woodbury went 26-2 (only losses to Minisink Valley) and was the No. 2 team in the state. Wallkill was No. 14 and probably should have been ranked higher, in the final state rankings.

Minisink Valley senior 145-pounder Mike Raccioppi and Monroe-Woodbury junior 195-pounder Nick McShea became the first Section 9 wrestlers to advance to a state final since 2011.

One story that I didn’t get a chance to write opened the banquet. Red Hook sophomore Wade Harris was presented with the Captain Stephen Leslie “Most Courageous Wrestler” award by his coaches Nick Fredericks and Quentin Johnson. Harris was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) before the season. Fredericks talked about how Harris didn’t miss a practice during treatment for the disease and how before every match Harris uses a rescue inhaler. Harris won the Section 9 Division II 99-pound championship by holding down Tuxedo’s Nick Conetta for 30 seconds in an ultimate tiebreaker. Amazing. The match was voted the most exciting of the Division II tournament. Harris received a standing ovation when he went up to receive the award.

Here’s a list of special awards, which was given out at the banquet:

Troy Bouzakis Senior Wrestlers of the Year: Damani Burns, Newburgh Free Academy and Mike Raccioppi, Minisink Valley
Orange/Sullivan Wrestling Officials Sportsmanship award: Quinn Zsido, Cornwall
Captain Stephen Leslie Most Courageous Award: Wade Harris, Red Hook
Comeback of the Year: Nate Donah, Saugerties
D’Aliso Most Improved Wrestler: Rob Satriano, Valley Central
Friends of Section 9 Presidents Award: Noah Curreri, Eldred
D’Aliso Scholarship Award: Quinn Zsido, Cornwall
DeCapua Scholarship Award: Damani Burns, Newburgh Free Academy; Hunter Curreri, Port Jervis; Alec Guevara, Wallkill; Matt Lopez, Minisink Valley; Mike Raccioppi, Minisink Valley, Tom Wightman, Warwick
Friends of Section 9 Coach of the Year: Kevin Gallagher, Minisink Valley
Mark Faller Coach of Year (Section 9 Championship team): John Gartiser, Monroe-Woodbury
Frank Tschan Team of the Year: Minisink Valley
Friends of Section 9 most improved team of the year: Monticello
John Bell Section 9 Lifetime Achievement Award: Gunnar deJong, Goshen wrestler, Goshen coach, referee.
Assistant Coach of Year: Tom Palazzo
Modified/Youth Coach of Year: Travis Gilberti, Red Hook
Friends of Section 9 Referee of the Year: John Scesa
Special Recognition Award: Pat Clair, Valley Central and Noreen Daly, Minisink Valley
Section 9 Person of the Year: Sal Interdonato, Times Herald-Record
Coaches Wife of the Year: Jeannine Leggett
Scorekeepers of the Year: Kaylee Weinberg, Middletown and Emma Sweeney, Cornwall
Parents of the Year: Tony and Dolly Roman, Newburgh Free Academy
Fan of the Year: John Zsido, Cornwall

 

 

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