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Student-Athletes Show Their Stuff FTK

Taking home the crown as Mr. Student-Athlete was Gaspar Lesnik (men’s fencing), and Taylor Herold (field hockey) was named Ms. Student-Athlete. Runners-up were Cam Kelly (wrestling) and Britney Howell (women’s track & field).

After the introduction of the emcees, Kristen Carpenter (women’s volleyball) and Tor Michaels of Tor Michaels Entertainment, the participants and judges were introduced to a crowd of around 300 in Alumni Hall.

The panel of judges included the presidents of Penn State PRIDE., Bridgette Carrier, and Atlas THON, Steve Topper, as well as the Vice President of Finance for IFC, John Hanson. Penn State Associate Athletic Director Charmelle Green and Academic Advisor/Career Development Coordinator Nate Althouse were also judges.

Each candidate answered a “Would You Rather” questioned posed to them by the judges while they modeled their formal wear. Questions included whether the candidate would rather have bendy straws for hair or newspapers for skin and whether he/she would rather have pork chops for earlobes or magic eight balls for elbows.

“I guess [world peace] would be nice, but I’d rather my team win,” Preston Gall (men’s gymnastics) told the crowd after he chose the ability to decide who wins every sports championship over the ability to create world peace.

After the modeling their formal wear and crafting an answer to their “would you rather”, each student-athlete performed a talent. A few of my favorites included:

  • The eventual King, Gaspar Lesnik (men’s fencing), had the crowd going nuts as he broke it down to some dubstep.
  • Matthew Seifert (men’s volleyball) did a hilarious “interpretive dance” to DJ Sammy with a few of his teammates. Jake Katz and Sarah Markel (cheerleading), Tom Mershon (men’s swimming & diving), Talia East (women’s basketballl), Amy Mogdlin (women’s swimming) and Kane Gladnick (women’s fencing) also had impressive dance performances put together.
  • Eventual Queen Taylor Herold (field hockey) donned a purple wig, sparkly top, and sunglasses for an energetic performance of “Proud Mary.”
  • Runner-up Cam Kelly (wrestling) rocked cutoff jorts, flannel, fingerless gloves, and roller skates for his roller disco to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” It was a sight to see.

The pageant concluded with a performance by My Hero Zero, who had the student-athletes and Nittany Lion dancing on stage, and the announcement of the winners and runners-up.

The pageant raised an estimated $2,000 for THON, according to SAAB THON Chair Kristen Rodman, who appreciated the enthusiasm from all those in attendance.

“It was a fabulous way to kick off the year and get people excited about what SAAB has to offer this year,” said Rodman following the event. “Student-athletes got the opportunity to showcase their talents outside athletics and the student body got a chance to see what we do outside our academics and sport, all while supporting a great cause.”

“The passion and energy in the room for THON and our family, the Messina family, was incredible.”

About the Author

John Tecce

John is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He currently serves as the President of the Paternoville Coordination Committee and as a THON Chair for Nittany Nation. He tweets a lot.


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