PEQUOT LAKES -- If you looked up "student-athlete" in the dictionary, there's a chance a picture of Ashley Meschke would be next to it.
On Friday, the Pequot Lakes senior was named the female winner of the Wendy's High School Heisman award for Minnesota in a surprise ceremony at Pequot Lakes High School.
"I was just so surprised," said Meschke, who received a standing ovation from the student body. "I had no idea what the assembly was about. When I filled out the form for this I didn't think I would even come close to getting it.
"This is just really exciting, especially since it happened here in Pequot Lakes. We're such a small school competing against all the bigger schools. It's such an honor because there are so many great student-athletes."
The Wendy's High School Heisman goes to seniors who demonstrate excellence in athletics, academics and community service.
Meschke was selected from 262 students from across the state. She is one of 102 state finalists from across the nation who will vie for 12 national finalists' spots. If chosen as a national finalist, Meschke would be flown to New York City and partake in three days of festivities.
Meschke has certainly shown her prowess in athletics during her Patriots career. Earlier this fall, Meschke, a two-time state Class 1A tennis participant, won her 100th career match, a rare feat in the sport.
She's also played starring roles on the golf and basketball teams. She helped the Patriots to the state title in the 1A golf tournament last spring and, as a sophomore, was on the Patriots' basketball team that placed fourth at the state tournament.
As good as Meschke is in athletics, she's even better in the classroom. She's ranked ninth in her class and carries an impressive 3.92 GPA.
But in addition to being an outstanding athlete and student, Meschke has been able to juggle her time and devote much of it to her community. She helps at her church and nursing homes and mentors young students to become better athletes.
"I think that coming from a small school we sometimes don't have a prayer in a national award like this," said Judy Heslop, the Patriots' golf coach. "Then, all of a sudden, we have someone from little Pequot Lakes in northern Minnesota who's going on to be a finalist in the nation. Ashley is just a phenomenal kid."
Despite all of her achievements in athletics, and in the classroom, Friday's surprise award and assembly ranks near the top for Meschke.
"This is pretty high up there," Meschke said. "This honor is probably the best thing that's happened to me because it's all my sports combined with my academics."
Patriots tennis coach Mindi Brill believes that Meschke, once her mind is set, can accomplish nearly anything, including winning the national Heisman award.
"Ashley's talked about playing college tennis," said Brill. "I know whatever she does she will be successful. I can see her winning it all because, not only does she have the athletic piece and the academic piece, her character is the most important part of Ashley."
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