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Students begin competing for the coveted Mr. and Miss FGCU titles

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The crown is about to be passed down. After multiple tests of school spirit, Mr. and Ms. FGCU will be selected this Saturday. Katie Friedman, a senior involved in theater, rugby and a sorority, is competing for Ms. FGCU. “I’m excited more than I am nervous,” she said. “To me, the events all represent something about FGCU so they are all going to be enjoyable.”

Friedman is competing alongside Riley Nowell, Amanda Wahba, Avery Muchnick and Sherona Edwards. Mr. FGCU’s candidates are Michael Denkler, Jasi Milton, Ricardo Nugent and Christopher Gorski.

The events began on Monday and run through the week until Friday. The first event was a Florida Gulf Coast University themed cook-off followed by a campus cleanup. The contestants had to wait until Wednesday for the actual pageant to start.

Each of them will dress up for “A Night in Paris” and showcase one of their talents at 7:30 p.m. in the Cohen Center Ballroom. At 5 p.m. Thursday, the candidates will “Flock the ROC” with a basketball contest and tug-of-war contest that will take place before the men’s basketball game against Jacksonville. On Friday, the candidates will have an afternoon with alumni at the Veterans Pavilion. An eating contest will spice up the competition at 1:30 p.m.

Students must wait until Saturday, Feb. 8, for the winners to be announced. Awards will be given out during the halftime break at the men’s basketball game against University of North Florida.

The prize is a surprise. Student Body President Juan Cubillio, the director of Student Relations and a committee of students organized the competition. The judges are a mixture of alumni and faculty. “The student body can submit nominations, but it’s not enough to base the competition solely on popularity,” Cubillo said. “Every contestant has an equal opportunity to win.”

“It would be a great way to end my career here at FGCU,” Friedman said. “Being involved in so many different parts of campus life, I felt this was an awesome way to culminate my time spent here.”

Andrew Grillo, last year’s Mr. FGCU, decided to run in 2013 to keep a tradition. “One of my fraternity brothers was the original Mr. FGCU before they did all this,” Grillo explained. “I wanted to keep it going. I was involved in my fraternity, Student Government, and I was an RA, so I figured I would go for it. It was nerve wracking, but all of us tried to keep it as fun as possible. There was a good camaraderie.”

“I hope to gain eight new friends with the other contestants,” said Friedman. “All of us candidates are preparing and using each other as guides to help us win.”

Last year’s competition included selling bracelets for points and did not include some of this year’s events, such as the eating competition. “This year’s competition is different because no money will be involved. Last year, the collection of money was a violation of the finance code. In addition, I don’t want contestants to think winning is all about money. It should be about spirit, effort and pride,” said Cubillo. “The changes have increased the amount of excitement. All students feel like they can compete because they no longer have to donate a ton of money for points, so more people saw the window open for them to get involved.”

“Just be yourself,” Grillo advised the candidates. “People can tell if you’re fake. Be confident and have fun.”

Saturday’s basketball game is at 7 p.m. at Alico Arena. The winners will be announced during halftime.

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