CLEVELAND — Even when one moves far away, Northeast Ohio is always home to us. That's certainly true of two college sports stars who were both honored at Thursday's Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
Iowa State linebacker and Brecksville native Mike Rose was named the Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year, while Michigan forward and Gilmour Academy grad Naz Hillmon is the Female Athlete of the Year for the second straight time. Both awards, presented by Jack’s Plumbing and Heating Co., were presented by 3News' Jay Crawford at a ceremony that aired on WKYC Channel 3.
Rose earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and AP Second-team All-America honors in 2020, leading ISU with 96 tackles and five interceptions. He helped the Cyclones to a berth in the conference championship game and their best record in 20 years (9-3), capped off by a win over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl that gave the program its first-ever major bowl victory.
"Especially out here, I've got to rep Ohio as hard as I can," Rose told Crawford when accepting his award. "I didn't have a lot coming out of [Brecksville-Broadview Heights] high school, so it's kind of nice to get that recognition now."
Unlike Rose, Hillmon was certainly known to recruiters coming out of Gilmour, having twice been named Ohio's Division II Player of the Year. She was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree during her first two seasons at U of M and has burst onto the national scene as a junior, averaging 25.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game while helping the Wolverines to a 13-4 record and a No. 12 national ranking. Her most notable effort came back on Jan. 21, when she scored 50 points against archrival Ohio State.
"I am very thankful for it," Hillmon said of winning best college athlete for the second year in a row. "I just know how many amazing people have come from this Cleveland area... Being from a place that I just absolutely love and brag about to everyone and receiving awards from them...I can't put it into words."
Rose beat out former Midview and current Kent State quarterback as well as Jackson and Ohio State baseball's Dillon Dingler for his award, while Hillmon's competition was former Walsh Jesuit and current Baldwin Wallace cross country star Kelly Brennan along with Revere grad and High Point basketball player Camryn Brown. Congratulations to all of tonight's winners and nominees!