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Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls gymnastics: Courtney Bondanza, Lancaster

By Keith McShea

Courtney Bondanza, Lancaster (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)Winning the all-around competition at the Section VI championships will earn you the title of best high school gymnast in Western New York.

Courtney Bondanza, a Lancaster junior, has done that for three years. This year she capped off her high school competition with an all-around capper: The state all-around title.

Bondanza won the all-around competition at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships to help the Section VI all-star team to the state title. She scored 38.125 at the states after winning sectionals with a score of 37.775.

Bondanza also competed in the Women’s U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships earlier this month in Jackson, Miss.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the big night.

The list thus far:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys gymnastics: Noah Roberson, Williamsville South

By Keith McShea

Noah Roberson, Williamsville South (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)While the list of schools involved in boys gymnastics might be a short one, the list of accomplishments for its' top performer is quite long.

Noah Roberson of Williamsville South won his second straight Section VI all-around title this year, setting two records and tying another along the way. He also earned the Mark Monaco Gymnast of the Year award.

The senior dominated the Section VI championships in his school's gym, with his 57.85 all-around score breaking the two-year-old record set by former Stumpf’s Gymnastics teammate Jonathan Zirna of Clarence. 

Roberson wrapped up his all-around with a horizontal bar score of 9.75 that broke a sectional event record shared by Zirna and Nathaniel Roberson, Noah's older brother and the 2010 Section VI all-around champion. He also tied Zirna’s record with a 9.7 on the rings as he had the top score in all six events. Roberson came within .15 of Keith Stumpf’s eight-year-old record with a score of 9.65 on the floor exercise, scored a 9.5 on the pommel horse, a 9.65 on the vault and a 9.6 on the parallel bars.

Roberson will continue his gymnastics career at Penn State.

The Roberson family tradition in gymnastics will continue with Miranda, a freshman at South.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the big night.

The list thus far:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls volleyball: Lainy Pierce, Eden

By Keith McShea

Lainy Pierce, Eden (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)Many of this year's Prep Talk Players of the Year are going on to major Division I athletic programs. 

That is true of the girls volleyball winner, Lainy Pierce of Eden.

Actually, she's already there.

Pierce, a five-time state champion, this past year's Class C state finals MVP, and a two-time All-Western New York first-teamer, graduated from Eden early and has been attending classes at Penn State since January.

She joined older sister Kendall, who was part of the Nittany Lions' national championship this past season, at State College, Pa., where both of her parents attended and played volleyball. The Pierce legacy has been strengthened in State College by Lainy's arrival while it has also left a lasting impact here in Western New York. Father Robert is also the Eden boys coach and directs the Eden volleyball club while Kendall and Lainy both played for their uncle, Stephen, at Eden.  

Pierce plans to return to Western New York for the June 16 Prep Talk Awards, but she has not been back often since January.

I conducted an email interview with her following her being notified that she was as Prep Talk Player of the Year (she wrote she was "very honored" to be selected).

Here are some excerpts: 

How at-home you feel at Penn State … especially with your sister there?

I grew up familiar with the school, I had been around the campus for volleyball tournaments when I was very young and a several volleyball matches, so I felt relatively comfortable adjusting from high school to college so fast. My coaching staff and teammates at Penn State have been awesome making extra efforts to help ensure a smooth transition.

 

PrepTalkTV: Prep Talk Players of the Year in volleyball and spring playoff talk

By Keith McShea

Tonight's PrepTalkTV episode again tied in with today's edition of the Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards as we welcomed in today's spotlight Prep Talk Player of the Year. 

Boys volleyball Prep Talk Player of the Year Brian Costello of Canisiuswho was featured on the blog today, appeared on the show. We also revealed the Prep Talk Player of the Year in girls volleyball -- she will be featured on the blog tomorrow as we countdown to the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16.

In our second segment of our second episode of the spring, colleague Miguel Rodriguez joined me to talk about the spring postseason, including his story on Lake Shore senior track standout T.J. Hornberger, the baseball seedings (released today) and more. 

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys volleyball: Brian Costello, Canisius

By Keith McShea

Brian Costello, Canisius (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Brian Costello graduated from Canisius on Wednesday after an accomplished volleyball career that included two All-Western New York first-team selections along with Monsignor Martin Player of the Year honors his senior season. 

Next month he'll add another honor to the list. 

Costello, who helped lead the Crusaders to another stellar season, is the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys volleyball.

Costello, the setter for a Canisius team which won the Monsignor Martin Association regular season and playoff championships for the 14th straight year, was named to the all-tournament teams at the high-level Clarence, Penfield and Hamburg tournaments. He played in 105 sets for the season and had 1,081 assists (10.3 per set), 37 aces and 82 blocks. 

Costello will attend the University at Buffalo, where he'll play for UB's club program. 

* * * 

Costello will appear on this evening's episode of PrepTalkTV, which will be posted around 7 p.m. We'll also announce the girls volleyball Prep Talk Player of the Year on the show.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the big day.

The list thus far:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls bowling: Haley Carroll, Williamsville South

By Keith McShea

Haley Carroll, Williamsville South (John Hickey/Buffalo News)Haley Carroll has a last name that makes people thing of excellent bowling in Western New York. And she's got the game to go along with it. 

Carroll, a junior at Williamsville South, is the Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls bowling as she's carried on a championship-level tradition. 

She was the Section VI champion this year by rolling a 1,215 series at AMF Thruway Lanes. She also helped the Section VI team to a second-place finish at the state championships in Babylon, Long Island. 

Last year, she was fourth overall at the state championships in helping the Section VI all-star team to the state title.

Carroll's mother, Cindy Coburn-Carroll, and her grandmother, Doris, are have been inducted into several Halls of Fame, and they are the only mother and daughter to be inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. 

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the big day.

The list thus far:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys bowling: Chad Mee, Frontier

By Keith McShea

MeeIn boys bowling, the award could have been called the Player of the Years.

Chad Mee of Frontier has been synonymous with excellence in bowling going back to his eighth-grade year, when he won the Section VI individual title, all the way through his senior year, when he ... won the Section VI individual title.

Every year, Mee made the state tournament, either by virtute of making the Section VI team or helping lead Frontier to the state championships.

The last two years, he helped Frontier advance as a team, and this year the Falcons won the school’s first state title with a dominating performance at Babylon Lanes on Long Island. Mee was the top individual in the state team competition with a 1,346 pinfall for a 224.33 average. Mee was also the individual champion as Frontier won Section VI after an unbeaten ECIC I championship year.

Mee's teams did not lose a league match since his eighth-grade season.

Away from high school competition, he has won several adult tournaments. Last year, he finished at the Obenauer Masters Tournament.

He received Division I partial scholarship offers but bypassed those and will attend the University at Buffalo to study chemical engineering.He hopes to start a bowling club team at UB, which does not have a bowling program.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the big day.

The list thus far:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for wrestling: Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowaga

By Keith McShea

Renaldo

Injuries may have shortened his senior season, but the legacy of Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer as one of Western New York's greatest high school wrestlers of all-time is more than intact.

Rodriguez-Spencer, a senior at Cheektowaga who will wrestle at national power Iowa State next year, is the Prep Talk Player of the Year for wrestling. 

The 2012 state champion went 38-0 with 27 pins before a knee injury ended his senior year just prior to the postseason. He was the champion at tournaments at Spencerport, Palmyra, Cheektowaga as well as the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association tournament and the ECIC Championships (where he hurt his knee). 

His career record was 188-13 with 97 pins, graduating with school records for most wins, most wins in a season (we went 47-0 last year) and was second in career pins (84 to 2009 grad Jared Messina's 104).

After the season, Rodriguez-Spencer was able to compete -- to say the least -- at the National High School Coaches Association tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., where he won a second straight national title and became the first wrestler in the history of the tournament to earn multiple Most Outstanding Wrestler honors.

He defeated Niko Villareal of Gilroy High in California in overtime, 8-6, in the 145-pound final this year. Last year he earned national attention by winning the junior tournament in the final seconds with a "flying squirrel" move.

Last year I did a story -- which is accompanied by a great graphic designed by Andrea Zagata -- on Rodriguez-Spencer's "flying squirrel" move and his career to that point.

He appeared on PrepTalkTV this year to discuss his career and his future at Iowa State (videos embedded below).

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the June 16 event.

The list:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys swimming: Jack Boyd, Canisius

By Keith McShea

Jack Boyd, Canisius (James P. McCoy)Not unlike the other winner from the pool, the Prep Talk Player of the Year for boys swimming leaves a legacy not only in Western New York but at the state championship level.

Jack Boyd of Canisius, who will swim at Harvard next season, earned All-American status for the third straight year as he won his third straight state title in the 200-yard freestyle. 

He also set a Western New York record at the state meet in the 500 freestyle. He finished second to Pittsford’s PJ Ransford (4:21.06) in one of the greatest finals in state history (both swimmers were much faster than the previous state mark of 4:24.06).

Boyd won state titles in the 500 as a sophomore and junior. He also helped the 200 and 400 freestyle relays to sixth-place finishes at this year's state meet. 

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the June 16 event. 

The list:

Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls swimming: Dina Rommel, Clarence

By Keith McShea

Dina Rommel, Clarence (Harry Scull/Buffalo News)The Prep Talk Player of the Year for girls swimming was not just dominant at Western New York meets, she was dominant at the state championship meet -- for the second straight year. 

Dina Rommel of Clarence, who will swim at the University of Virginia next year, was the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the state championships. She won two individual events -- the 50-yard freestyle (Section VI record and All-American time of 23.13) and the 100 butterfly (55.77) -- while she also helped the 400 free relay (with fellow seniors Rebecca Anthone, Victoria Butler and Sydney Modeas) break Clarence’s own state record it set last year (3:28.72) with an All-American time of 3:26.98.

Her performance was a major reason that the Red Devils finished with a meet-best team total of 241 points (despite a disqualification in the 200 medley relay) and why Clarence girls swimming earned the top spot in our fall Power 10.

 

Last year Rommel also starred at the state meet, helping Clarence to the top of not only the fall 2012 final Power 10 but also the No. 1 Power 10 spot for the entire 2012-13 school year. She and the Clarence team appeared on PrepTalkTV last season.

* * *

All Prep Talk Players of the Year will be honored at the inaugural Prep Talk Awards on June 16 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, featuring Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Reed and Janet Snyder of Kiss 98.5. The Prep Talk Awards will honor Prep Talk Players of the Year in more than 30 sports, along with the All-Western New York first teams in football and basketball. 

* * * 

Our Countdown to the Prep Talk Awards will feature a different Prep Talk Player of the Year each day until the June 16 event. 

The list:

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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