In a spin-off of the Travel Channel's "Man v. Food" show, two teams of Ohio University seniors pounced on the opportunity to devour fare from Athens restaurants in the Bobcat vs. Food competition outside Memorial Auditorium Thursday afternoon.
The Ultimate Uptown Eating Challenge was organized by the Student Alumni Board as part of OU Senior Week, with SAB members Lori Timpone and Jackson Lavelle hosting.
"It's on our bucket list, and it's free dinner before Hilton Head," participant Meghan Amburgey said of getting to eat food from Athens restaurants, free of charge. (The reference to Hilton Head. S.C., arose from the fact that going to the beach resort town over Memorial Weekend has become an OU student tradition in recent years.)
Amburgey was one of six OU seniors on the 110 Love Pen team, named after the students' house on East State Street. Amburgey and her teammates, Andi Comer, Lauren Johnson, Brooke Schneider, Elyse Schwanke and Lauren New, all donned peach T-shirts with their team name printed on the front.
Shortly before the competition, Schneider found a replacement for herself, Nate Caldwell the sole male on the team.
"I just knew I couldn't do the calzone," she said.
On the opposing side was Team Blackout, comprised of Matt Reynolds, Ryan Kaya, Hamada El Tatawy, Kyle Royer, Brandon Juszczyk and Anthony Palermo, along with "coach" Alan Gordon.
"I don't think we're nervous at all. We've got lots of team unity," said Reynolds with a laugh before the competition. "We're going in there with a lot of confidence, and we're gonna give it 110 percent."
Each member of the team had to wolf down one offering from an Athens-area restaurant, including a Red Brick burger, D.P. Dough calzone, Big Mamma's burrito, Kiser's BBQ pulled pork and sides, another D.P. Dough calzone, and a cookie cake from Fluff.
Team Blackout was in the lead after the first course, but soon 110 Love Pen took over. The last offering, a giant cookie cake, left Comer and El Tatawy neck-and-neck. El Tatawy claimed victory in the end, finishing off the leftover icing with his fingers.
The teams were competing for gift certificates worth a total of $125 from Applebee's, Bob Evans, The Pub, Mike's Dog House, Brenen's, Big Mamma's Burritos and The Diner.
While 110 Love Pen appeared disappointed, the young women (and their sole male teammate) seemed relieved that it was over and pleased with their performance. Said Amburgey, who almost got sick after stuffing down the calzone, "I didn't think we'd be that close to the guys!"