UPDATE: Link to the live stream of the event:
Each February, the Northeast Ohio sports community gathers to remember and honor the best athletes and moments of the previous year at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
The 19th edition of the prestigious event, hosted by Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, will prominently feature two Saint Ignatius Wildcats as awards finalists.
The two finalists are familiar names to Wildcats fans – Michael Boehm '20 and Dre'Mont Jones '15.
Boehm is up for Male High School Athlete of the Year. As a sophomore, Boehm rewrote the Saint Ignatius record book. Boehm starred for the Lax Cats as an exceptional forward, helping the team reach the OHSAA Division I State Championship. Boehm also played a critical role for the Ice Cats in helping the program claim its third straight state championship.
Jones is up for the Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year. In his fourth season playing football for The Ohio State University, Jones anchored the Buckeyes' defense. Jones enjoyed an exceptional season, helping OSU win the Rose Bowl. Jones is projected to be a first-round NFL Draft pick in the spring.
"The two of them being nominated at the same time is something I'm not sure has ever happened at Saint Ignatius before," said Rory Fitzpatrick. "It's a great event, a huge event. To have two guys from Saint Ignatius nominated in the same year is very special, and they're two great young men."
Boehm and Jones have each represented Saint Ignatius with class on and off the field. The on-field accomplishments of these two are a marvel, and indicative of the vast number of hours devoted to their crafts.
In the last two seasons, Boehm has been busy rewriting the record book for Saint Ignatius lacrosse. From the moment he stepped on the field, Boehm has lit up the scoreboard.
As just a freshman, Boehm produced a scoring output many only dream of – 43 goals, 27 assists, and 60 ground balls. Boehm's efforts helped the Wildcats reach the inaugural OHSAA State Championship in 2017, finishing as runners-up. Boehm was only getting started.
The Rocky River native churned out incredible stats for the Lax Cats as a sophomore. Boehm tallied 67 goals and 45 assists for 112 points, all single-season Saint Ignatius records. Boehm also added 50 ground balls, guiding the way for the Lax Cats to the title bout again in 2018.
Boehm received the nomination based on his lacrosse feats, but he's no slouch on the ice either.
A talented skater and an expert with his stick, Boehm flies around the ice like The Flash. In his third season with the varsity, Boehm has compiled 33 goals and 49 points (82 points) in his career. Boehm is averaging over a point per game through 25 games this season.
Affectionately known as "Boomer" by his teammates, Boehm played a key role for the Wildcats in helping the team secure state titles in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. Named an alternate captain for the 2018-19 campaign, Boehm hopes to lead the Ice Cats to the promised land again in March.
Despite all of his achievements, Boehm was not expecting this recognition.
"I was a little shocked," Boehm said. "I didn't know too much about the award, then I looked at it and saw what it was about. This is a huge honor. I can't thank enough everyone who has helped me along the way to get where I am – family, Saint Ignatius, teammates and coaches. I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me."
Having watched Boehm light up the field like a lightning bolt, Wildcats fans aren't as surprised.
Count Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88 as among the unsurprised. Fitzpatrick recognized Boehm's ability long ago.
"You knew Michael was special from the start. Michael has been around Saint Ignatius for a long time, following his brothers. I remember Michael as a little guy, running around during the lacrosse games," Fitzpatick said. "He's clearly a very special athlete. Anyone who can come into any sport at Ignatius, let alone two sports, and be on the varsity team for all four years means a lot. He's an incredibly bright kid. He's a young man who's worked very hard at what he does.
"He's also a great teammate. It's been fun watching him grow. I feel like we've had him around for eight years already. We get him for another year next year, too. He's a special athlete. You know when you see the special ones – they have a unique quality about them, and Michael certainly has that quality."
Another Wildcat who possessed the "it" factor from the start is Dre'Mont Jones.
Jones made the football team as a sophomore. Jones excelled as a junior, and fully hit his stride as a senior. During his senior season in 2014, Jones led the team with 58 tackles and 4 forced fumbles. As a defensive lineman, Jones added 16.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries (including one for a touchdown), and 3 pass breakups. Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69 also used him as a tight end on offense. Jones tallied 8 receptions for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns.
A talented player with great size, Jones drew a wide range of offers, but decided to become a Buckeye.
Jones' Wildcat career ended in an unfortunate injury, an ACL tear during basketball season. The injury was devastating, but in some ways, defines Jones' journey to stardom.
"I remember how hard Dre'Mont worked during his four years to get to where he got to," Fitzpatrick said. "I remember being with him and his mom on the night he hurt his knee. Seeing where he's gotten to after sitting out after an ACL injury and how hard he's worked, I'm incredibly proud of his effort and where it's gotten him. It's more reflective of who he is as a person rather than how good he is or where his talents will take him. It's his nature and how much effort he's put in over the years. It's awesome to see him reaping the rewards of doing all of that great stuff."
After overcoming the injury, Jones did great things for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. Jones tallied 51 tackles in a great redshirt freshman campaign before notching tallying 20 tackles and 5 tackles for loss as a sophomore.
Following the 2017 season, Jones had a big decision to make – stay for one more year and establish his legacy at OSU or head to the pros. On the advice of Coach Kyle, Jones stayed.
The decision paid off in spades. Jones anchored a vaunted Ohio State defensive line, one of the best in the country, with 43 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks as a three-down defensive tackle. Pundits now peg Jones as a first-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, which carries a significant contract. Just as importantly, the extra year allowed Jones to earn his degree.
Before he goes pro, Jones will be honored one last time as a college athlete at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.
As the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission announced on Monday, the fundraiser will take place at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel Grand Ballroom on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. Doors will open at 5 p.m.
On behalf of Saint Ignatius, congratulations, Michael and Dre'Mont! We'll be rooting for you at the awards ceremony!