A Crawford County student-athlete has been chosen as a state finalist for a prestigious national award.
Matt Schmidlin, a senior at Palestine High School, is one of 20 Illinois finalists for the Wendy's High School Heisman Award, which is one of the most esteemed awards at the high school level.
The High School Heisman award program was created in 1994 by Wendy's and the Heisman Memorial Trust. It recognizes outstanding high school seniors nationwide who excel in athletics, academics and community leadership. Students can nominate themselves for the award online, in addition to being recommended by principals, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches. The most exceptional students are then selected to advance during extensive judging processes conducted at both state and national levels.
According to the press release received from Ketchum Public Relations on the behalf of Wendy's, of the 45,000 seniors who applied nationwide, 1,451 applicants came from Illinois. Those have now been narrowed down to the state's 20 finalists, which embody the Heisman spirit of hard work and dedication through their outstanding achievements in athletics, academics and community/school leadership.
Schmidlin, who is a member of the Palestine-Hutsonville football team and Hutsonville-Palestine basketball team, is one of 10 boys from Illinois chosen as finalists for the award. Other boys named as finalists include Jason Becker of Stewardson-Strasburg, Connor Black of Mundelein, Nolan Brannick of Freeport Aquin, Nicholas Colangelo of Frankfort Lincoln Way East, Artan Emini of Yorkville, Tom McCormick of Oregon, Matthew McDonald of Dupo, Ankit Patel of Watseka and Trevor Rolette of Tinley Park. There were also 10 girls chosen as finalists from Illinois as well.
On Monday, Nov. 5, one male and one female finalist from each state will be named state winners. Of those state winners, 12 will be chosen as national finalists and will go on to compete for the national winner title in New York City Dec. 7. National finalists will be featured during a televised ceremony on ESPN networks and will receive gold medals and $2,000 awards for their high schools. One male and one female national winner will receive a crystal Wendy's High School Heisman trophy, a $500 gift certificate to Wendy's and Wendy's will donate $10,000 to each winner's respective high school.
Additionally, the winners will be recognized during the collegiate Heisman Trophy broadcast on ESPN, Dec. 8.