Monday, February 18, 2019 Medina 17°

High School Football

Wadsworth's Joey Baughman recognized at Greater Cleveland Sports Awards

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    Joey Baughman, second from left, and Brecksville's Shannon Williams, second from right, receive their awards for high school athletes of the year from Bernie Kosar, left, and Joe Thomas, right, at the 2018 Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.



CLEVELAND — Wadsworth quarterback Joey Baughman’s trophy case is running out of room.

And the awards keep getting better.

He was named Male High School Athlete of the Year at the 18th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on Wednesday at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

In the fall, he was the first Medina County athlete to be named Ohio Mr. Football after leading the Grizzlies to the playoffs. They went undefeated in the regular season and won the Suburban League title.

“It definitely ranks way at the top,” he said of his newest award. “There’s tons of great athletes in Northeast Ohio and it’s an honor to be selected as the best.”

Baughman, who will play football at Elon University in North Carolina, beat out Euclid running back Ronald Lee and Cleveland Heights defensive end Tyreke Smith for the award. Smith has committed to play at Ohio State.

Baughman threw for 3,079 yards and 36 touchdowns while rushing for 1,523 yards with 20 touchdowns this season. He’s a two-time Division I wrestling state runner-up.

Browns legends Bernie Kosar and Joe Thomas presented him the award. Baughman got a few pictures as souvenirs.

“It was really crazy,” he said. “I looked up to those guys. I loved watching them play.

“I wasn’t around really when Bernie played, but I’ve seen some clips and he’s amazing. So it’s pretty crazy for me to be in their company.”


More than 20 years after leaving Lithuania, Northeast Ohio is still home to former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The region returned the love Wednesday, as he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I’m very happy and humbled to receive this award,” Ilgauskas said. “I didn’t stay here because of the weather. I stayed because of you guys, the people. You guys make the city what it is.”

The 7-foot-3 Lithuanian was the No. 20 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and played 12 years of his career in Cleveland. He overcame a series of foot injuries and surgeries to become a two-time All-Star and help the Cavs to their first NBA Finals appearance in 2007.

He retired in 2011, finishing with averages of 13 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He’s the Cavaliers’ all-time leader in rebounds (5,904), offensive rebounds (2,336) and blocked shots (1,269).

“First, I mean, you talk about adversity,” Cavaliers superstore and former teammate LeBron James said Wednesday. “What he had to go through when he first started his NBA career with the foot injuries he had to continue to go through and the foot surgeries he had to go through, being that size, at some point thinking to himself he’d never be able to play a game. To see him get all the way back to him becoming an All-Star while I was here, being the impact player he was.

“He had a heckuva chemistry with our pick-and-pop. We talk about 7-footers shooting threes. Z was doing it back when we played. Multitalented guy but even greater person to be around every day.”

Momentous honor

The Best Moment in Cleveland Sports in 2017 wasn’t a momentum at all. It was 22 games filled with many more memorable moments.

The Indians’ American League-record 22-game winning streak won the award.

“I didn’t take time to enjoy it maybe as much as I should have,” manager Terry Francona said. “To look back at it, it’s pretty special.”

Indians ace Corey Kluber was named Professional Athlete of the Year, beating James, Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. Kluber went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA last season.

The Indians lost to the Yankees in the Division Series in October. Francona had a message for fans as spring training approaches.

“In 28 days, I guarantee you we’re coming back with a vengeance,” he said.

An inspiration

North Olmsted senior captain Samer Babi was given the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Courage Award for his battle with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a rare type of cancer that forms in the connective tissues.

He felt pain in his jaw while preparing for his senior season and was diagnosed the day before prom.

“He is the most positive and inspiring patient I have ever met,” said Marta Bodnaruk, a Cleveland Clinic pediatric nurse.

Babi wasn’t able to play in his final season with the Eagles but cheered on his teammates from the sideline and led the school’s Kick It For Cancer fundraiser. He’s undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for Stage IV RMS and hopes to major in finance and play rugby in college.

And the rest

Brecksville basketball player Shannon Williams was the top female high school athlete.

l Kent State All-American discus thrower Reggie Jagers III was the top male college athlete. He’s from Solon.

l Michigan basketball player Hallie Thome, from Chagrin Falls, was the top female collegiate athlete.

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

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