Payson Senior Is Wendy's High School Heisman Honoree

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A Payson teen, who aspires to becoming a medical doctor, has been named an Arizona Wendy's High School Heisman state finalist.

Brian Schwind, a senior at Payson High School, was one of 18 students from around the state to receive the honor.

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Payson High School senior Brian Schwind, the defending state 4A high jump champion, has been named an Arizona Wendy's High School Heisman state finalist.

The teen said the honor caught him by surprise, but he's elated at being a finalist.

"It's an honor being recognized as a good athlete and a good citizen," he said.

Schwind was nominated for the honor by Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley.

The two Arizona finalists eventually named state champs were Emily Watts of Mesa Skyline and Zachary Greenberg of Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

The annual award celebrates high school seniors who excel in athletics, academics and community service.

Following Schwind's graduation in the spring, he plans to enroll at New York University as a premedical student, with an eye toward someday working in radiology.

At Payson High, Schwind is an honor student who maintains a 3.85 grade point average while taking advanced placement classes.

Last month, he achieved "Commendable" status in the National Merit Scholarship Program for attaining a score in the top 5 percent on the pre-SAT test.

"That's the elite of the elite," PHS counselor Don Heizer said. "Only the top 10 percent take the test and he was in the top five percent of those."

As a three-year varsity basketball letter winner, the 6-foot, 5-inch Schwind was one of the Longhorns' finest inside weapons last season.

With the start of the hoop season only days away, Schwind is being counted on this year to be both a team leader and a standout player.

Former Payson High School basketball coach Scott Dean, now coaching at Lake Region State College in North Dakota, predicted Schwind has the talent to play on the next level.

"If some school doesn't pick him up, I'll be back to recruit him," Dean said before leaving Payson for his new job.

Schwind also excels in the jump events for the Longhorn track and field team.

Last spring, he was the Grand Canyon Region and Class 4A state champion high jumper, with a leap of 6-feet, 4-inches.

Former PHS track and field coach Dan Reid predicts Schwind can go even higher.

"There's a kid that's jumped 6-8 and I think he can go with him," Reid said.

Leaping 6-8, as Reid believes he can, is a goal of Schwind's.

"I want to go that high next (track and field) season," he said.

In addition to the high jump, Schwind was a state qualifier last spring in the long jump, taking third in the GCR finals, with a personal best 20 feet, 6 inches.

He narrowly missed qualifying for state in the triple jump, finishing fourth at 40 feet, 9 inches.

When not competing in sports or attending classes, Schwind has found the time to serve as a peer counselor at PHS and volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Payson.

He's also a certified lifeguard and works during the summer months at Chaparral Pines and Taylor Pool.

The award

The Wendy's High School Heisman Award was created in partnership with the Heisman Memorial Trust and has been recognizing outstanding, well-rounded students for the past 12 years.

"Our nominees are among the most remarkable and inspiring seniors across the country," Jack Schuessler, chairman and CEO of Wendy's International, said. "Wendy's is proud to celebrate the outstanding achievement of these students as they serve as role models in their schools and communities."

The program is currently in the "state winner" phase. During each phase, the field is narrowed to determine which students will advance.

By the end of November, the state winners will narrow to 12 national finalists, two each from six regions. The national finalists will travel Dec. 9 to 11 to New York and participate in the Heisman weekend festivities, where the top male and female student-athletes will be named Wendy's High School Heisman national winners. The event will be televised Dec. 11 on ESPN2.

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