Sunjay Chawla and Lauren Eccles beat out an applicant pool of almost 42,000 high school athletes to win the male and female Wendy’s High School Heisman award.
In winning, the two will receive $5,000 scholarships.
The award celebrates triumph on the field with an emphasis on success and positive actions off in the form of schoolwork and community work.
The two winners are valedictorians who are All-State athletes and have helped in the community.
Chawla is dominant a three-sport athlete for Pillow Academy (Greenwood, Miss.).
He was the captain of the soccer team, being named to the All-State team and is the second-leading scorer of all time.
As a golfer, he was named to the All-State team after placing third at the state championships with a score of 80.
But where he really stands out is the tennis court.
Chawla was a four-time state champion in singles play and served as a captain for three of the years.
He also made an impact on the court out of school. For his Eagle Scout project, Chawla built a tennis wall for young athletes who couldn’t afford private lessons to train on for free. He also helped start the Love Tennis Club for Beginners, in which he helps give free lessons.
“I hope one day that a student from the club wins a state championship. That would make me most proud,” he told the Wendy’s Heisman site.
Chawla is the valedictorian of his class with a 4.9 GPA. He scored a 34 on the ACT and formed a club at the school to help provide tutoring and study manuals for underprivileged youth.
Eccles is a premier athlete in three different sports at Jefferson County High School (Dandridge, Tenn.).
She was a soccer captain, an All-State swimmer and and All-District track and field runner who won the 2016 Impact Athlete award.
In the community, she received her referee certification from the American Youth Soccer Organization and volunteers with basketball, volleyball and swim teams. Eccles also helps cleans up fields and fix equipment.
In all, she estimates her work has helped more than 1,200 kids.
In the classroom, Eccles is not just the valedictorian — she’s set to receive her Associate of Science degree two weeks before her high school diploma.
She takes college courses full-time through dual enrollment and plans to pursue chemical engineering research as she takes on global issues. At the top, she told the Wendy’s Heisman site, sit the palatable water shortage problem in South Africa.
With the full schedule, she was also thrown into a position of at-home responsibility when, in a period of about a month, her mother underwent unexpected open-heart surgery and her older sister suffered an accident that required surgery and months of physical therapy, according to the Wendy’s Heisman site.
Yet Eccles is set to graduate with a 4.7 GPA and scored a 36 on her ACT and 1540 on her SAT.
Chawla and Eccles will be invited to attend the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday in New York as the NCAA announces its Heisman winner.