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Champion of the Hill brings talent, fashion, and excitement to homecoming weekend

St. Olaf’s annual Champion of the Hill was held in the Lion’s Pause on Oct. 8. After three rounds of intense competition, Tess McCarty ’22 was declared the Champion.

Champion of the Hill is a homecoming weekend tradition that continuously draws students due to the humorous talents, costumes, and performances from their classmates.

Student President Andy Nelson ’23, Student Vice President Micahel Paredes ’22, and Pause Co-Coordinators Sannah Arvidson-Hicks ’22 and Nathaniel Chi ’22 judged the competition. From the beginning, they emphasized that the Champion of the Hill needed to be someone who was hilarious and lit up the room. McCarty did just that. After getting nominated for the competition, McCarty hesitantly accepted the nomination.

McCarty entered the stage beginning with an opera singing performance that slowly transitioned into the backing track of Cardi B’s “WAP.” She then went on to perform the lyrics of “WAP” while maintaining the opera style singing. 

McCarty studies opera at St. Olaf, and she said she got the idea to sing “WAP” opera style from hangouts. “My friends would want me to sing opera to whatever NSFW song was playing,” she said in an email to The Olaf Messenger.

Despite knowing what talent she wanted to perform, McCarty did not know anyone who could mix the music for her. “I asked if anyone knew how and would be able to mix music for me on my Instagram story. An Olaf alumni came through and mixed the song that night,” McCarty said.

McCarty continued to grasp the audience’s full attention as she stepped out as Pitbull for the fashion portion and confidently answered questions during the interview round.

Along with McCarty, her fellow competitors and hosts Sebastian Pham ’23 and Ben Grant ’23 kept the energy high throughout the night.

Danny Barry ’22 opened up the intense round of talent competition with a dance to a medley of popular bangers. His performance set high standards for the rest of the talents, even receiving a standing ovation from about half the audience.

Lila Graham ’22 embraced the Y2K homecoming theme with a dramatic reading of 2000s pop-punk star Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi.” Graham later went on to dress as Lavigne in the fashion show round.

Emily McCoy ’22’s standup act and Alexander Perez ’25’s singing performance showed off their confident stage presence. 

Fan favorite Noah Stamboulieh ’23 performed a musical skit with Aryaman Joshi ’23. The skit included many callbacks to Stamboulieh’s performance in the 2020 Champion of the Hill competition.

George Wood ’22 shared the story of Ytterboe the dog for his talent portion, cracking jokes in between his monologue. He left the audience laughing and wanting to hear more from him.

The performers fed off the audience’s energy, pushing them to embrace the goofiness of Champion of the Hill.

“The audience made the whole competition so much fun,” McCarty said. “There is always the fear that what you think is funny might not translate to the audience very well, but it was so assuring to hear them laughing along with you and cheering you on.”


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