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Slam poet wins talent competition at University of Northern Colorado

By Rachel Bailey
On January 21, 2013

  • First place winner Tyrell Allen speaks his poems at UNC’s Got Talent Thursday in the University Center Ballrooms. The junior Africana studies major won $500. Rachel Bailey | The Mirror

As part of welcome week at UNC, 12 students performed in the UNC's Got Talent competition Thursday for a crowd of about 500 people in the University Center Ballrooms.

Contestants were judged by five individuals from the Greeley community: Matt Reinhard, president of Residence Hall Association; Kelly Walker, a graduate assistant for Greek Life; Brian Luedloff, director of opera theatre; Jael Esquilbel, career counselor at UNC; and Gerry Heise, administrative coordinator for the Greeley philharmonic orchestra and trumpeter.

Performances included singing, Irish dancing, a pianist and yo-yoing. Contestant judging was based on originality and creativity.
This year's top performer and first-place prizewinner was Tyrell Allen, a junior Africana studies major. Allen has regularly attended Open Mic nights and attended last semester's Take Back the Night where he performed his own original slam poetry.

Allen responded to winning with a mix of self-assurance and humility, revealing that he was unsure about performing at the event.

"I was really happy with myself," Allen said. "I am so honored to be in this space with these really talented people," Allen said. "I wasn't going to (perform), but decided to audition a week before."

Allen's first poem, "Love Dreams," was written about a month ago as a personal message to himself. "Fish," his second poem and last in the competition, was written for a good friend who recently passed away.

Second place and $200 was awarded to Danny Tramel, a senior music education major. Tramel is a country guitarist who played and sang two songs about previous break-ups.

"It's good to sing in front of your peers," Tramel said. "It's good to see a response to country music in Colorado, since it isn't as big out here."

George Covarrubias, a freshman biology major, is a skilled yo-yo enthusiast who performed for his first time at UNC.

"I'm really afraid of crowds, so this was a good way to get over it," he said.

He has previously performed in his high school pep rally and as a street performer for a day in Hollywood while on vacation with his family.

The young yo-yoer said he did made a mistake during the performance.

"At one point, I pulled the string too hard and it cut into my thumb," Covarrubias said.

Covarrubias won $100 and the title of third place in the competition. He plans on using his prize to buy a new professional yo-yo, which could cost nearly all his winnings.

"It was bomb," said Stephanie Wilhelm, a junior math-secondary education major, of the event.

Several other students shared in Wilhelm's excitement for the performers.

"I was surprised at the variety," said Jessica Bristol, a senior Spanish-secondary education major. "I was excited to see the Irish jig and slam poet."

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