Crusader men step up talent, comedy, fun
By Alannah Domangue
She’s beauty, and she’s grace…wait, wrong pageant.
The 18 contestants of the twentieth annual Cru Knights suited up for the show’s finale Feb 16. Senior mass communication/journalism major Tanner Clarke (Mr. Senior Class) received this year’s title as Mr. Crusader Knight.
“I was completely overjoyed and blown away,” Clarke said. “It’s kind of a myth that seniors can’t win Cru Knights.”
Although this was maybe not the audience’s typical show of Myth Busters, Clarke certainly shattered the tale.
“Going into Cru Knights, I did not want to win. The whole reason why I did Cru Knights was so I could get to know some (underclassmen) that I would never get to know otherwise,” Clarke said.
After being elected for senior class representative, Clarke kept one simple goal in mind.
“I wanted to hopefully leave behind a legacy that has nothing to do with me and has everything to do with guys being transparent and learn what it means to be true men of God,” he said.
Behind the scenes of all the pizzazz and excitement of the two-night show attended by students, members of UMHB and the community, this year’s director, senior history major Jake Hans, saw a dream become a reality.
“I’ve always had a vision for what I wanted Cru Knights to be,” Hans said.
Everything from the practices to the pageant and all the brotherhood bonding in between came together seemingly perfect for him.
“To actually stand there Friday night and see what was in your head (occur) on the stage and see how close the guys have gotten over the past six weeks was really awesome,” Hans said.
As the director, Hans not only wanted to produce an outstanding performance, but he sought to create a sense of unity among the contestants.
“Every week we had a theme practice,” Hans said. He prompted the guys to attend practices with different attire including short shorts night, collegiate night and a Hawaiian night.
However, Hans also wanted to meet with the guys simply to “leave practice at practice” and to have some fun. Hans planned a chick-flick and ice cream night for more of a cheesy, guy-bonding occasion.
Overall, many of the participants agreed the experience was absolutely unforgettable, and in the most non-cliché way possible, “magical.”
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” freshman communication major Jayten Ames (Mr. First Year Council) said. “I grew so close to everybody there.”
For senior accounting major and first runner-up Braden Buchanan (Mr. Independence Village), Cru Knights affected him beyond the newfound friendships.
“It was a great lesson of humility,” Buchanan said.
In his early weeks of the competition he was “in it to win it, and it totally took away from the experience.”
He learned quickly the show was not about winning, but rather investing time into his peers.
The competitors agreed.
“It’s about that brotherhood and the relationships that you build during that time,” Ames said.
“People don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, (and they) don’t know how much deeper it really is,” Ames said. “But God really moves through it.”
Looking back at the event, Hans had mixed emotions deciding whether he would go for another round of his role as Cru Knights director.
“I would do it again, but (then again) I wouldn’t do it, because I don’t think there was a better group of guys I could have done it with,” Hans said.
Among the other participants, finalists included second runner-up Andrew Alvarez (Mr. Ultimate Cru), third runner-up Karl Baker (Mr. Burt Hall) and fourth runner-up Clint Brown (Mr. Stribling Hall).
Additionally, recognized by his competitors as the most Christ-like, Ames received the Timothy Award. Collin Cavendish (Mr. Farris Hall) earned the Judges’ Choice Video while Buchanan won the Campus Choice Video, and judges awarded Best Strut to Bryan Myers (Mr. McLane Hall).
Despite the Crusader Knights formal awards, Clarke believes the group together gained a greater overall reward.
He said, “Our group of guys really meshed. We really truly made bonds that are going to go outside of this (experience). I didn’t expect to grow as much spiritually as I did. You think it’s a man pageant, and it’s just silly and goofy, but at the same time this group was so focused on glorifying God through it all.”