Ben Pelegano 15 crowned King of the Hill

“So I was reading the Bible, but it’s incomplete. I’m on the book of Numbers, but yours isn’t there,” said Ryan Slaughter ’17. The crowd in the Pause simultaneously groaned and applauded the pick-up line as the annual King of the Hill contest kicked off.

King of the Hill is an incredibly popular Homecoming Weekend tradition. Even though the event started Friday night at 7:30, a line of people snaked from the Pause up the stairs by 7:00. When everyone finally got into the Pause, it was crammed with students and a few lucky visiting family members. The crowd was ready and waiting to see 11 Ole men showcase their beauty and talents, and they did not disappoint.

After a pre-show Minute to Win It game involving duos from each residence hall throwing cheese at each other’s faces to see how much would stick congratulations to Hoyme, Ytterboe and Thorson, the contestants strutted onstage to perform a dance to “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. The choreography featured plenty of hip shaking and pelvic thrusting and was well-received by the audience. The judges were introduced Student Government President Rachel Palermo ’15, Student Activities Administrative Assistant Laura Mascotti and Artist in Residence Gary Gisselman, and competition began.

Each contestant walked onstage wearing his finest suit and escorting a date, with the notable exception of Marcus Frick ’17 and his stuffed puppy Lucy. All 11 presented their best pick-up lines. Unfortunately, three competitors had to be cut after this stage: Nick Hodge ’15, Benji Miller ’15 and Noah Anderson ’18.

Swimsuit events are popular in almost every beauty or talent pageant, and King of the Hill was no exception. The remaining contestants walked across the stage in swimwear and struck poses from the classic “scuba-diver” to the less classic “hit-the-ground-while-lying-on-a-bodyboard.” After this stage the audience had to say goodbye to Marcus Frick ’16, Jack Post ’17 and Slaughter.

The penultimate event was the talent portion, featuring a rather diverse array of talents. Connor Tedstrom ’16 played guitar and sang “Teardrops on my Guitar,” substituting the character of Sue in for Drew.

According to Tedstrom, “the inspiration for my talent portion was all the girls who’ve broken my heart in my life, specifically Sue. And I’m just a pretty big T-Swift fan in general.”

Coleman Foley ’17 treated the audience to an acoustic performance of “Get Low,” while Ben Pelegano ’15 performed an original rap medley parodying many popular tunes. One lyric the audience particularly liked was “If you’re a first-year with a triple major, drop one like it’s hot.” Joey Kronzer ’16 invited an audience volunteer to go on an awkward first date with him, and Nick Stumo-Langer ’15 delighted the audience with an interpretive dance featuring a large red therapy ball. While all the performances pleased the crowd, only three contestants could advance to the final round.

Minutes later, Tedstrom, Pelegano and Stumo-Langer were tasked with answering random questions on the spot.

“If I won the lottery, I would buy a trip for me and my closest friends,” said Pelegano. “This life is nothing without your closest friends.”

“If I could bring one thing to a jungle island, I would probably bring Crime and Punishment,” Stumo-Langer said. “Maybe then I would have time to finish it.”

Tedstrom moved the audience with his answer to the question of whom he admires most.

“I admire my mom. She’s the strongest woman I’ve ever met. It’s clichĂ©, but true.”

According to Tedstrom, this last challenge was the most difficult for him.

“If I could do it all over again, I’d change up a few of my random question answers. It’s pretty stressful being put on the spot like that in front of so many people. I would tell future contestants to really think about what kind of questions you could be asked and have a few answers in mind when you’re asked, because I didn’t.”

After a short deliberation by the judges, Pelegano was crowned King of the Hill, with Tedstrom as first runner-up. Applause broke out as the winner stepped forward to claim his crown.

King of the Hill 2014 may be over, but next year will be here before you know it. To Oles interested in competing in the future, this year’s competitors offered some words of wisdom.

“I would recommend making a fool of yourself at some point, too, because people are there to laugh,” said Tedstrom. “This was my first year in the competition, but I decided to compete in King of the Hill this year because it seemed like a great event, and I had heard how much fun people had in the past doing it.”

The competitors may have had fun competing in the event, but the audience possibly had more fun watching them. Congratulations once again to King of the Hill Pelegano, and good job to all the other competitors.

Photo Courtesy Madison Vang/Manitou Messenger