WMHS announces ExCEL, Triple-A winners

Watertown-Mayer's ExCEL award winners were, on the left, Meagan Campbell and Luke Sandquist. The Triple-A Award winners are, on the right, Josh Loomis and Ellie Poikonen.
Watertown-Mayer’s ExCEL award winners were, on the left, Meagan Campbell and Luke Sandquist. The Triple-A Award winners are, on the right, Josh Loomis and Ellie Poikonen.

Watertown-Mayer High School recently announced this year’s winners of its Triple-A and ExCEL Awards.

The awards are given annually to juniors and seniors who best represent the school not just as students, but also through athletics, extracurricular activities and community involvement. Both awards are sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League, and are part of a larger statewide competition where the one male and one female nominee from each school are submitted to the state, and a number of statewide winners are selected. Those winners are expected to be announced in early February.

This year, the nominees for the statewide ExCEL Awards from Watertown-Mayer are Meagan Campbell and Luke Sandquist. The nominees for the statewide Triple-A Awards are Josh Loomis and Ellie Poikonen, both of whom were the school’s ExCEL nominees last year. Loomis was later chosen as one of the 32 statewide winners last year.

The ExCEL Award is given to one junior boy and one junior girl at each school in the state prior to the statewide competition. The award recognizes excellence in Community, Education and Leadership (hence the name, ExCEL), and is a unique recognition program for juniors who are active in school activities, who show leadership, and who are model citizens.

The Triple-A awards go to one senior boy and one senior girl at each school prior to the selection of the statewide awards. The awards recognize students who have excelled in Academics, Athletics and Arts.

Here is a look at each of this year’s winners.


Meagan Campbell

Campbell, an A-honor roll student, has been quite active in Watertown-Mayer’s choir and theater programs since her freshman year. She has been involved in the fall musical and spring play in all three years at the school, as well as the choir. She also has received a superior rating in solo ensemble in choir.

Campbell was inducted in the National Honor Society as a sophomore, a rare privilege for a 10th-grader to be selected. She was even selected to represent Watertown-Mayer’s NHS organization at the Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar. She has also been involved in Knowledge Bowl for 3 years.

Campbell is also very active in her church and in the community. At her church, she sings in the choir, is in the bell choir, is a cantor for mass, is on the decorating committee, is a youth group leader and a vacation bible school leader. She also volunteers for the Freedom Farm therapeutic riding center in Waverly as a side walker, and volunteers her time at school building sets and props for the theater program.

Campbell was also involved in athletics during her freshman and sophomore years, competing in swimming for 2 years and softball for 1 year.

Campbell lives in Mayer and is the daughter of Peter and Kris Campbell.

Luke Sandquist

Sandquist’s leadership skills are likely most known on the athletic field at Watertown-Mayer. Sandquist was an all-conference performer and a team captain for the Royals’ strong football team this year, and he’s a starter and team captain for this year’s basketball team as well. Sandquist has played 3 years of varsity football, 2 years of varsity basketball, and has played 2 years of baseball as well. He was also chosen by Activities Director Mary Haugen to attend the Minnesota River Conference Leadership Conference this year.

Beyond athletics, Sandquist has been an honor roll student all three years and carries a grade point average better than 3.8. He also has been on the Class Ring committee for the last 2 years and was on the homecoming court his freshman year.

Sandquist is also very active in his church and in the community. At Trinity Lutheran Church, he serves as an usher, and he’s also been a vacation bible school assistant. He also has volunteered with Feed My Starving Children by helping to make meals to ship overseas, and has assisted with the Watertown-Mayer youth basketball and football programs.

Sandquist lives in Delano and is the son of Al and Michelle Sandquist.


Josh Loomis

Loomis, a state winner of the ExCEL Award last year, is best known for his participation in school plays and musicals. He has played lead roles in many of the 11 high school productions he’s been a part of, including the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Loomis also appeared as a StarKid performer last year in a production of Hairspray at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.

Loomis was also a member of the school band from ninth through 11th grades, and this year is a part of the choir. He also is active in sports, having played varsity soccer since eighth grade, serving as a captain the last two years. He also has competed on the varsity track and field team since ninth grade.

Aside from all of his extracurricular activities, Loomis is an outstanding student. Despite taking numerous College in the School courses, he has maintained a 4.0 grade point average, and was also inducted into the National Honor Society as a sophomore, a rare privilege. He is serving as the NHS president this school year. He is also vice president of the student council this year after serving as the treasurer last year. Loomis has also been active in Knowledge Bowl for all 4 years of high school, and has been in Mock Trial for 2 years, where he is an attorney.

Loomis, who plans to attend college at North Dakota State, lives in Watertown and is the son of Greg and Debbie Loomis.

Ellie Poikonen

Poikonen was also Watertown-Mayer’s female ExCEL Award nominee last year, also maintains a 4.0 grade point average despite a rigourous schedule that includes numerous College in the School classes.

Poikonen has sung in the school choir for 3 years, and has also been involved in competitive dance outside of school for 15 years. Poikonen currently participates in Knowledge Bowl, which she has done since her freshman year, as well as Mock Trial, which she joined this year, serving as a prosecuting attorney. Poikonen is also the treasurer for the National Honor Society, and the secretary for the student council, which she has been on for 3 years. As part of the student council, she also has served on a staff public relations committee, serving as a liaison between the student body and faculty. Poikonen has also helped organize several successful blood drives for the student council, as well as school dances.

Poikonen has also been a member of the Watertown-Mayer girls’ soccer team  since eighth grade.

Poikonen, who lives in Watertown and is the daughter of Mark and Linda Poikonen, plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]