Taylor Campos of Lemont, Ill., and Zach Hughes of Westminster Christian Academy (Town and Country, Mo.) have some rather large hardware to take on their flights home, but with all the honors classes and National Honor Society work between them, they’ll figure it out.
They were named as the 2015 Wendy’s High School Heisman winners in a ceremony Friday night in New York Friday. A male winner and female winner were chosen from among 10 finalists. The finalists were culled from thousands of school winners, then 984 state finalists and finally 102 state winners from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get this home,” Campos said. “Winning this award is not so much pressure as it is a great honor. As with any of these awards, what you do after you win them and what you can do with the recognition is what matters.”
Campos is a two-year captain in cross country and track, set the school and conference record in the three-mile and was all-state in cross country. Off the track, she is a National Honor Society officer, a National Hispanic Scholar and volunteers with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
“The best thing (about her volunteer work) is getting to know each child individually and getting to know the strength they have to go through with the therapy,” she said.
Hughes is a National Honor Society member, spent four years on the school’s honor roll and was active in theater, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and several volunteer organizations. He competed in basketball and track at Westminster and was a senior captain on the school’s football team, which went 13-1 and made it to the Class 5 semifinals this season.
“It was a record-setting season for us,” Hughes said. “It was sad to end the season with a loss. We accomplished a lot and I’m very proud of my brothers on the team. My coach likes to joke about my grades. Last year, I made a dumb return of a kick and he asked me, ‘Aren’t you in a million AP classes?’ I have a great team, a really supportive group.”
Hughes and Campos agreed that one of the best perks of the trip to New York was meeting student-athletes with similar drive.
“That has been a crazy part of it, just getting to know the other finalists,” Hughes said. “I’m very honored to be chosen.”
“I really thought every single one of them was an amazing person and they’re all so kind,” Campos said.
It was the first trip to New York for both winners. Hughes said he thought he had a shot to win, but was still shocked to hear his name.
“They did not tip their hand at all,” Hughes said. “I know that I’m a good candidate and I also knew I was surrounded by other good candidates. It felt like before a race in track. I would get the tingly sensation of the anticipation of a race.”
Each national winner receives a $500 Wendy’s gift card and a $5,000 donation awarded to their high school in the students’ name. They also will be recognized during ESPN’s telecast Saturday of the college football Heisman Trophy. The national finalists receive a $100 gift card and a $1,000 donation to their school. The awards have been given annually since 1994.
The ceremony broadcast of the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award Ceremony will air at 5 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 on Dec. 13.
Maggie Beazer, Stansbury High School, Stansbury, Utah
Taylor Campos, Lemont High School, Lemont, Ill.
Kayla Dobies, Dakota High School, Macomb, Mich.
Seneca Friend, Long Reach High School, Columbia, Md.
Jada Dayne, Waunakee High School, Waunakee, Wis.
Alek Parsons, Ogden High School, Ogden, Utah
Zach Hughes, Westminster Christian Academy, Town and Country, Mo.
Sean Rausch, Longwood High School, Middle Island, N.Y.
Rick Basak, Hamden High School, Hamden, Conn.
Ian Saum, Central Cass High School, Casselton, N.D.