“And the 2017 Champion of the Hill is ... Jon Hollister!” emcees Christian Conway ’18 and Swannie Willstein ’19 announced after a successful Champion of the Hill performance on Friday, Oct. 6. The Ole tradition is like “Miss Congeniality” for all genders.
“It’s basically like our version of a pageant. So there is an escort part and there’s a talent portion where contestants do a talent and there’s a fashion part and a question part and, at the end, someone gets named Champion of the Hill,” Maria Lind ’19 said. Lind is a member of the Student Activities Committee which ran the event along with all the other Homecoming Week events. Lind ran Champion of the Hill with Brigid Duffy ’20.
“We started planning [the event] in August and people on the Homecoming committee came early to school to work on things and it has been picking up since school started,” Duffy said. “We had meetings every week .... You have to book the space, you have to talk to the contestants, you have to figure out logistics and stuff. So a lot goes into it but I think it’s going to be super rewarding when it’s all over.”
And Oles were excited to see the talent. “The tickets sold out really fast and my friends were lucky enough to snag me an extra one,” Emily Bukowski ’20 said, hoping for a riveting performance.
“I’m looking forward to some creative acts and we will see how things go [judging by] the crowd response [and] by their talent level,” Men’s Basketball coach and Champion of the Hill judge, Daniel Kosmoski, said. Kosmoski judged Champion of the Hill along with Pastor Katie Fick and SGA President Jauza Khaleel ’18. All three were first-time judges, but Fick would be, as Willstein said, “judging these contestants with the will of God.”
It seemed the judges needed God’s help to decide with such an array of talent from the nine contestants. From Julie Johnson’s ’19 carrot cannibalism act – she dressed up in a carrot costume and ate carrots – to Bjorn Anderson ’20 cooking pancakes onstage, the acts ranged from funny to creative to just plain random.
Every performer seemed to be the winner. Rein Ripperger ’19 defeated a Carleton student in his act: an Ole vs. Carl WWE wrestling match.
“Nobody – and I mean nobody – talks sh*t about Carla’s omelets,” Ripperger said after throwing the Carl into a table.
Contestant Sophia Spiegel ’19, who got runner-up, already proved herself a winner during her act. After a captivating cello performance of the Game of Thrones theme song, Speigel used her bow as a sword and, destroying her fellow musicians in a sword fight, crowned herself.
Even the emcee, Conway, was a winner. He danced with a hula hoop and Willstein awarded him the runner-up medal she received at last year’s Champion of the Hill. It was a touching moment and it felt as if everyone could be a winner.
But there could only be one Champion of the Hill.
“Tonight, victory happened for me,” 2017 Champion of the Hill Jon Hollister ’19 said after the show. Hollister approached the night looking for redemption from last year’s Champion of the Hill where he was not victorious. During Hollister’s act, he dressed in drag and danced to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).” Even in four-inch wedges, he didn’t mess up the dance once. However, he does admit to toning down his dance moves “because Pastor Katie is here,” Hollister said.
Hollister won the popular vote, taking home the title. Yet there are some Oles who disagree with the judges’ final decision.
“Personally, being in Steve’s sketch, I wanted him to win. But if it wasn’t Steve, I would have wanted my pod-mate, Rein,” Austin Brown ’19 said. Steve Magagna II ’19 performed an “Ode to Taco Bell” rap and made it to the final three.
Kjell Redpath ’20 also disagreed with the choice of champion. “I think it’s fixed. I think it’s all rigged. It’s all an inside job. Bjorn Anderson should have been the winner and Rein should have been the runner-up – actually either-or but those two,” Redpath said. A member of SGA confirmed that the show is not, in fact, rigged. But, no matter what the audience says, the judges have spoken.
“I’m a winner, baby!” Hollister said.