Meadows athlete captures Heisman

Brett Leibowitz is still relishing a state football championship less than a month old.

On Friday, the senior football and basketball player from The Meadows School had a new — and even bigger — reason to celebrate.

Leibowitz, 18, was named the male winner of the Wendy’s High School Heisman award Friday in New York.

The award honors high school seniors who excel in academics, athletics and community leadership. More than 33,000 male and female candidates applied.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” said Leibowitz, who acknowledged he was still in a state of shock after winning. “When they said my name, it was amazing.”

Leibowitz accepted the award at the Nokia Theatre Times Square, where college football’s Heisman Trophy will be presented today.

Only 12 national finalists (six boys and six girls) reached the final round. The female winner was girls cross country runner Kathy Kroeger of Franklin, Tenn.

Leibowitz will be recognized briefly during ESPN’s 5 p.m. telecast today. Friday’s ceremony will be shown Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

He is the first winner of the award from the Las Vegas area since Green Valley girls cross country runner Abby Miller in 1999. The award, which was created in 1994, has not been won by a Nevadan since Galena’s Chase Correia in 2003.

“He’s very dedicated in sports,” said Steven Leibowitz, 54, Brett’s father. “More importantly than that, he really wants to change the world.”

Last summer, Brett Leibowitz worked as an intern with the Wild Salmon Center of Portland, Ore., in Kamchatka, Russia. He assisted a team of scientists conducting research along the Kol River to help conserve an endangered wild salmon ecosystem.

At The Meadows, Leibowitz has a weighted 4.71 grade-point average, and three of his 11 advanced placement courses in high school have come this year.

In football, Leibowitz started at both offensive guard and defensive end this season in helping the Mustangs to their first Class 2A state football title since 2001.

In basketball, he is a starting center on a team that won state championships in 2006 and 2007.

He is a co-captain in both sports.

“He’s relentless in what he does,” said Frank DeSantis, football coach and athletic director for The Meadows. “He goes a hundred miles in everything, academics and athletics.”

Leibowitz said he plans to study environmental engineering at California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, an Ivy League school or somewhere in the University of California system.

Among the highlights for Leibowitz on Friday were a tour to the top of the Rockefeller Center and meeting former Ohio State running back and two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin.

Today, he’ll get to meet and pose for pictures with whichever star quarterback wins the college Heisman — Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Florida’s Tim Tebow or Texas’ Colt McCoy.

“I forgot about that, honestly, in all the excitement,” Leibowitz said.