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June 28, 2008

Winner shows ‘Wright’ stuff

Steve Wright was honored with this year’s Greg Partigianoni Scholarship Friday night during Cortland High’s commencement exercises.
The $2,000 cash stipend is sponsored by the Red Dragon Restaurant, which has given out $25,000 in the 17 years of the award’s existence. It is given annually to the senior member of the Purple Tiger baseball squad who best exemplifies the academic and athletic qualities of the late Cortland High and SUNY Binghamton player.
Wright earned all-OHSL Freedom American Division first-team honors this spring as a pitcher, going 3-4 with a 2.23 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 44 innings for a team that finished 8-13 overall. He was also named the Purple TigersMost Valuable Player.
Wright, who graduated with a academic average of 93, will attend West Virginia University in the fall and major in Geology. He plans on trying out for either the varsity or club team there.
In his application letter, Wright mentioned his bond with his brother Brett and thanked his parents, Darren and Mary, for the way they raised him. Scholarship selection committee chairman Lum Cooper noted that “You don’t hear that from many kids.” Wright also said of possibly being honored that “Not only would it give me a confidence boost, but also, receiving this award would be good motivation for me to strive to do better.”
“It’s an honor,” Wright said of winning the award. “I’ve known about the wall (with previous winners) at the Red Dragon for most of my life, and have had my sights set on it for awhile. I was surprised; I didn’t think I was going to get it.”
“Between the lines, Steve is all business, like Greg was,” said Cortland High coach John Tobin, who was a friend of Partigianoni’s. “You got everything he had. He’s also a lefty, like Greg. And Steve is introspective; when things went wrong he looked inside first to see what he could have done to make the situation better. He was very good at giving credit to his teammates and taking the blame himself.”
“Steve’s a smart kid and always has been. He’s quiet, but takes charge. When he’s on the mound, we’re a different team. He’s well-respected by his friends and teammates and, like Greg, people like being around him.”   
“I did the same things when I was a freshman,” Wright said of the way he dealt with mistakes made by a young CHS team while he was on the mound. “I just played my game. Mr. Tobin watched over me all the way up through modified and JV, and made sure I didn’t do anything dumb. He’s a good mentor.”
As for the highlight of his high school baseball career, Wright said that “It was definitely striking out Cody O’Connor of Mexico twice (in a 8-5 CHS victory on May 3). He was the CNY Player of the Year.”
Partigianoni was a coach at then-SUNY Binghamton and Ohio State, receiving his Masters from the latter and also working with the Columbus Clippers of the International League. He was the first head coach of the Cortland Apples in what was formerly known as the Northeast Collegiate Baseball League, and was pitching coach at Cornell under head coach Ted Thoren, who he was in line to replace, when he succumbed to cancer in 1990.
Cortland High retired his uniform number 5 in 1994.
Previous winners of the Partigianoni Scholarship, which was first awarded in 1992, were, in order, Seth Montgomery, Matt Rohde, Mike Reeners, Nick Leopardi, Joe Meldrim, Matt Pearsall, Chris Poli, Adam Cincotta, Brett Seyfried, Shawn Collyer, Brendan Byrnes, Brandon Galutz, Jared Wood, Mike Avery, John Sinsabaugh and Anthony Pitts.