Six from area honored at 69th Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions dinner

By on June 25, 2018

Hilton’s Yianni Diakomihalis, College at Brockport head football coach Jason Mangone along with Spencerport’s Erin Coy-kendall, Roger Ressman, Bari Mance and Jack Purificato were each honored June 18 at the 69th annual Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions dinner.

Diakomihalis, who finished with a 38-1 record in his first collegiate season at Cornell and finished it off with a national title at 141 lb., was named the Amateur Athlete of the Year.

One of only seven wrestlers who won four state titles and finished his Hilton high school career with a mark of 243-3 and earned a pair of Cadet world championships and two Asics All-America team slots while joining Gable Steveson as the only Americans to win two cadet (ages 15 to 17) world championships.

He became just the 19th in NCAA history to accomplish the feat as a true freshman.

“All year I told myself that I didn’t care what I had to do, but I wanted to be a national champion,” Diakomihalis said to the audience. “The people in my life allowed me to do that and without them I would not be anything.”

Mangone was named Coach of the Year after the Golden Eagles went from 7-4 in 2017 to 13-1 in 2018. They finished first in the nation in first downs and top-five in third down efficiency on offense. Defensively they were number one in the country in sacks (21 more than their nearest competitor) and top-five in rushing defense.

“We changed our schematic from a four-man to a three-man and put our kids in better position to make plays. (Defensive Coordinator) Mike Fox helped turn our weaknesses into strengths.”

The Golden Eagles outscored their competition, including then 13th ranked Wesley, 115-28 over the first two rounds of the NCAA playoffs.

“This is a staff of the year honor and not just a Coach of the Year award,” Mangone said at the podium. “But it is an honor that I will never forget.”

Coykendall was named one of five Democrat & Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Athlete of the Year girls finalist after she helped Spencerport to their second consecutive New York State title in soccer and to the Class B semi-finals in lacrosse.

Ressman was one of two recipients of the Eddie and Kevin Meath Community Service Award recognizing him for efforts including delivering bags, paper goods and boxes of clothes from Press-Radio’s food and clothing collections at their Christmas meeting to Andrews Center, Open Door Mission and Webster Family Center with Sean Ryan among other club volunteer efforts.

A 49-year Master Mason, he has been cooking at the Spencerport Fireman’s Carnival for 40 years (“it gets hectic on parade night”), is extremely active in the Spencerport Rotary Club and a founder and past District Governor and can be seen at the Rotary Club’s annual pasta dinner in February, their geranium fundraiser in May, the Club golf tournament and Fly-In breakfast in August and chairman of the annual MDA Roadblock.  He also was selected 2016 Citizen of the Year by the Spencerport Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This took me by complete surprise,” Ressman said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have been involved in and great satisfaction in knowing you helped.”

Mance, who just helped St. John Fisher earn their third consecutive trip to the NCAA softball players as their head coach, was given the Christine Wagner Welch Inspiration Award.

The 36-year old is going through four months of chemotherapy following a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer ten months ago.

“It’s like the lessons I learned as an athlete, just different” she said. “Persevere through the aches and pains and keep your positivity and pride. Belief of hope—that anything can happen and underdogs can win.

“This is the kind of game that I can win and connect me back to my inner athlete.”

Purificato was this year’s recipient of the Morrie Silver Award, presented for special contributions to promoting sports in the Rochester area.

He just completed his 18th and final year as chairman of the Section V boy’s basketball tournament (and 33 years of involvement).

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