Cyclone Idol chooses winner

Sarah Haas

He’s not an American idol, but he is now one at Iowa State.

Jesse Donner, sophomore in aerospace engineering and music, won first place in Veishea’s Cyclone Idol on Thursday with a stirring rendition of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up.”

Idol judge Todd Jenks, lecturer in English and self-proclaimed reality television lover, said of Donner’s performance simply, “We have a winner.” After a pause, he corrected himself by saying, “No, you did an awesome job.”

Mishelle Michel, program assistant for the Department of Public Safety, noticed a change in the atmosphere when Donner performed.

“You could just feel it,” Michel said.

The $100 second place prize went to country singer Neil Hewitt, freshman in agricultural studies, who performed an original song called “Good Direction” with his guitar and cowboy hat.

Hewitt also won the People’s Choice Award by receiving the most text message votes during the program.

One male audience member even yelled, “I want your babies,” as Hewitt prepared to perform.

Haleigh Steere, junior in interior design, received the third place prize of $50 for soulfully performing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”

The other seven contestants performed to the best of their abilities, causing the decision to be “a very difficult one,” said emcee Jeff Timmons, a former member of 98 Degrees.

Classic hits such as Carole King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” Celine Dion’s “Drive All Night,” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be” showed the audience personalized twists on classic tunes, while other performers composed their own pieces.

Audrey McGargill, sophomore in child, adult and family services, composed her own song for the show and, like runner-up Hewitt, accompanied herself on guitar.

Timmons sang three of his band’s most popular hits, including “I Do (Cherish You)” and “The Hardest Thing.” Timmons entered the audience during his final number, the up-tempo hit “Give Me Just One Night” and danced with female fans.

As the crowed settled, the deep voice of Donner that won the judges over, earning him $300. Before winning Cyclone Idol, Donner said he had not considered participating in the real version, “American Idol.”

“I’m not really concerned with being America’s next idol, but I would be a lot more proud of being the Cyclone Idol because it’s something where all of the people competing are from ISU, and we’re showcasing the talent that’s here at Iowa State,” Donner said.