CLEVELAND: Cheri Stricklin was so oblivious to the stars her husband kept pointing out at Thursday night’s Greater Cleveland Sports Awards that she said he should have brought a friend instead.
“I said, ‘That’s Hanford Dixon,’ and she had no idea who that was,” Kent State baseball coach Scott Stricklin said, referring to the former Browns cornerback.
Fortunately, Stricklin had four more knowledgeable members of his 2012 College World Series team at his side to help him accept the collegiate athlete of the year award from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer during the annual gala at the Renaissance Hotel.
With Stricklin was pitcher David Starn (a Walsh Jesuit product), designated hitter Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake), shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) and catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.).
“We’ve got two Pittsburgh guys here. I’m glad they didn’t wear their black and gold up on stage,” Stricklin said.
The Golden Flashes’ baseball team was selected over the KSU football team, which went to its first bowl game in 40 years, and the University of Akron soccer team, which reached the NCAA round of 16.
Other big names in attendance were Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and coach Rob Chudzinski, Cavs coach Bryon Scott, General Manager Chris Grant and newly named all-star Kyrie Irving, and legendary boxing promoter Don King.
“It’s a great honor,” Stricklin said of the Golden Flashes’ award. “I was excited when I got the call that we’d be a part of this. It’s really neat to be around these people who mean so much to Northeast Ohio.
“The coolest thing for me is that everybody knows what we did and they didn’t say, ‘What did they do?’ They really took this story and ran with it and people responded. I think it’s because we had so many kids from here. We were Northeast Ohio and we represented college baseball like it’s never been represented.”
Irving was named professional athlete of the year over teammate Anderson Varejao and Browns kicker Phil Dawson.
Tianna (Madison) Bartoletta, an Elyria native who finished fourth in the 100-meter dash at the London Olympics, was selected the top amateur athlete. She was picked over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy product Justin Harry Lester, a Greco-Roman wrestler who also competed in the London Games, and Westlake’s Margot Shumway of the USA rowing team.
Mentor quarterback Mitch Trubisky was chosen the high school athlete of the year over Kirtland running back Damon Washington and Mentor guard Justin Fritts, Ohio’s Mr. Basketball in 2012.
Former Browns left tackle Doug Dieken received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Chris Wilk of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, also an adjunct professor of sports administration at KSU, took home the Sports Development Gold Medalist Award.
The sports moment of the year was Mentor’s triple-overtime victory over St. Ignatius in the state high school football playoffs.
What about Modell?
Former Browns owner Art Modell is one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 and ex-Browns running back Eric Metcalf believes Modell should be selected.
“If you talk about what he did for the NFL, to me it’s a no-brainer,” said Metcalf, who helped Haslam present Dieken his award. “Granted, he took the Browns to Baltimore, but I’d be willing to bet if you asked a Browns fan if he still owned the team in Cleveland right now would you think he would be in the hall of fame, everybody would say yes.”
Asked how he feels about the Browns’ new regime, Metcalf said, “I think we’re going to see some changes that people are looking forward to and we’re going to be past the point of all the turnover with the new coaches and new players. We’ll get to the place everybody in Cleveland wants to be.”
Metcalf lives in Seattle and coaches track and field for a track club, some elite athletes, the University of Washington. He is also a consultant for Nike track and field.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.