Wendy’s High School Heisman selected Reed’s Mo Maluotoga, Tuesday, as the girl finalist from Nevada and put her in the running to become the National High School Heisman, announced in New York City, Dec. 13.
“State winners are exceptional examples of well-rounded students who excel academically, lead and serve others with the passion and persistence of a Heisman winner,” Archie Griffin, the only two-time collegiate Heisman Trophy winner, said in a press release. “While these students are recognized as leaders in their communities, the Wendy’s High School Heisman award gives them the national recognition their achievements have earned.”
Maluotoga was selected one of the 100 state finalists (a boy and girl from each state) out of more than 48,000 applicants nationwide. She said after first hearing she won she did not think or realize it was a “big deal.” Her opinion changed when she saw the staggering number of high school athletes who applied.
“I’m really happy and blessed to be chosen,” Maluotoga said. “It’s been a fun year for me, and successful, and I’m just blessed for it.”
Maluotoga’s national recognition spilled onto social media, specifically Twitter, where the Reed standout really noticed the honor’s significance. Students from rival Spanish Springs ‘favorited’ Maluotoga’s tweet saying how blessed she was.
“It’s kind of cool when I get our rival, Spanish Springs, to favorite. That’s a huge honor in itself,” Maluotoga said. “It’s awesome. I’m not going to lie.”
If selected one of the 12 national finalists, Maluotoga will fly to New York City for the Dec. 13 crowning of the nations’ top boy and girl scholar-athlete. National finalists will be featured on ESPN and will receive $2,000 for their school.
The two national winners receive the National High School Heisman trophy, a $500 Wendy’s gift card and a $10,000 donation to their school from Wendy’s. The winners will also be recognized at the collegiate Heisman Trophy announcement the following day.
Maluotoga said she is trying to remain even-keeled about the possibility of a trip to New York and generous donation to her school but has thought about potential benefit for Reed.
“It’s definitely a lot of money,” Maluotoga said carrying out the ‘o’ in a lot. “My school is not necessarily new, but not necessarily old either, so I definitely would want that (Wendy’s donation) to go to a lot of things to improve the school. But I definitely would want a lot of that to go to athletics, especially the volleyball program because it’s a big part of my life.”
Reed volleyball coach Kris Flagtvedt said it would be “awesome” for Maluotoga to become a national finalist and win but could not overstate the significant of her senior catalyst being named Nevada’s finalist.
“To be chosen as the female for the state of Nevada, there’s a lot of good student-athletes in the north but also in the south too, so for her to beat out such a number is huge,” Flagtvedt said.
Zachary Surmacz of West Career and Technical Academy, in Las Vegas, is Nevada’s male finalist.
Maluotoga admitted she procrastinated completing the application process which took her nearly a month to complete with the aid of hounding from her mom, Joanne. She turned in the application a month ago and was notified weekly as she advanced through rounds to narrow field before being named the state finalist Tuesday.
The national finalists will be surprisingly announced at the finalists’ respective schools starting Monday, Nov. 11 through Friday, Nov. 22.
“She has worked her butt off with volleyball but then also with academics…,” Flagtvedt said. “You have to be successful on the court but then also successful in other areas of your life. I think she (Maluotoga) does a great job representing that.”