By Vern Hee
Kayla Skilling, a senior at PVHS, was announced as a finalist for the prestigious Wendy’s High School Heisman award.
On Oct. 29 Wendy’s announced the 19th annual state finalist from each state. Nevada has 20 top scholar-athletes as finalists for the prestigious award.
Finalists go on to compete for the state. According to the Wendy’s Heisman, each state will select one male and one female on Nov. 5 to go on and compete nationally on Dec. 7. About 45,000 seniors applied for the award nationwide. In Nevada, there were 209 seniors who applied.
Wendy’s said the 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.
Kayla Skilling said she was really excited to be a part of the Wendy’s Heisman.
“I heard about it during the summer and applied for it. The application asks a lot about school work and about sports. This year I am doing cross country, basketball and track. I lettered three years in basketball, four in track and once in volleyball and this year in cross country and I have a GPA of 4.5,” said Skilling.
She said the application wanted to know details about her athletics and academic accomplishments.
“I told them what classes I have taken and my grades and they wanted to know about my accomplishments in sports. They also wanted to know about other things outside of school. I told them that I have done Ragnars, which are overnight running relays. These runs vary from three to eight miles and have anywhere from six to 12 runners on a team. Each member on the team does three legs. I have also done marathons too,” said Skilling.
Skilling is a runner most of her time at Pahrump.
“In track I do the two mile and the 800. I enjoy cross country running more because you are not running in a circle,” she said.
In the wintertime, despite running most of the year, she said she plays basketball and enjoys this sport the most.
“This was my first year running cross country. My favorite sport is basketball and I have played all four years. I started playing basketball with the Junior Trojans,” remarked Skilling.
Jennifer Hagstrom, Trojans girls basketball coach, said Skilling was a great choice for the award.
“Kayla Skilling is an outstanding student-athlete at PVHS. She has pushed herself in the classroom as well as the athletic arena. Her top post-secondary college choices are the University of Alaska Pacific and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She has been a strong contributor to the girls basketball program over the past two seasons, and has the ability to lead through work ethic as well as her skills on the court, and in the classroom,” said Hagstrom.
Skillings has a dream of becoming a marine biologists after graduation. This is why she selected Alaska and Hawaii as her choice of colleges.
“I am looking to go to college at Alaska Pacific University for marine biology. I like all the creatures and love the ocean and everything about it. I am going up to Alaska on Tuesday and will be staying for a week to see if I like it,” Skilling said.
Skilling is a very self-motivated person. She said finding scholarships to go to college and colleges that fit within her family’s means has come second nature to her.
“My father pretty much leaves it up to me to get the applications in for scholarships. He sometimes puts in a word here and there. As far as college, financially, I have to talk to him about it and he is otherwise cool about it as long as I can make it work. The hardest part of going to college is probably being able to afford it,” she said.
Skilling is all about the water when she is not doing sports. During the summer, she was a lifeguard at the community pool. On family vacations she enjoys deep sea fishing with her father, wake boarding and swimming in the ocean.
To unwind at home she likes riding her Ninja 250. Along with street bikes she enjoys long rides in the desert on dirt bikes.
“When I am not playing a sport I ride motorcycles. I like dirt bikes and I have a red Ninja 250. I ride it to school sometimes. My dad rides a bike too. I am not sure I can take the bike up to Alaska because of all the snow. I have not taken it to Vegas yet. Dad wants to go with me on a trip first before he lets me go by myself,” said Skilling.
Skilling has two more sports to compete in this year. Look to her as a major outside shooter for the Lady Trojans basketball team this winter.
The 20 finalists from Nevada
Avalon Frantz — Boulder City High School, Boulder City
Alexandria Battest — Coronado High School, Henderson
Alyssa Gomez — Spring Valley High School, Las Vegas
Carli Evatz — Albert M. Lowry High School, Winnemucca
Kailee Guthrie — Damonte Ranch High School, Reno
Kayla Skilling — Pahrump Valley High School, Pahrump
Katrina Breithaupt — Dayton High School, Dayton
Staheli Wilkinson — McDermitt Combined School, McDermitt
Janae Johnston — Galena High School, Carson City
Anna DuBois — Elko High School, Elko
Christopher Laliberte — Coronado High School, Henderson
Jeremy Estes — Boulder City High School, Boulder City
Braeden Smith — Western High School, Las Vegas
Alexander Blutman — Palo Verde High School, Las Vegas
Tyler Meidell — Damonte Ranch High School, Reno
Tucker Melcher — Galena High School, Reno
Corbin Cliften — Yerington High School, Yerington
Jesse Studebaker – Albert Lowry High School, Winnemucca
Colby Patton — Spring Creek High School, Spring Creek
Scott Nisbet — Elko High School, Elko