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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 5

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 5 86 BY STACY CLARDIE SClardie@GoldandBlack.com T he Golden Pete Awards offered a twist in its fifth year, having current stu- dent-athletes host for the first time instead of alum- ni. One was a walk-on with a "good attitude" and the other was an All-Ameri- can and Big Ten cham- pion. It turned out to be a good combination, the non-scholarship football player Race Johnson and the flashy, accomplished track star Brionna Thom- as. Johnson's natural stage presence — his family is filled with performers and he made his first appear- ance on stage in a musi- cal in third grade — and willingness to make fun of himself worked well with Thomas' cool factor. Their opening dance number basically consisted of Johnson struggling and Thomas contorting her body for so many moves — including break dancing — that her fellow student-athletes in the crowd started screaming. There was that kind of balance on a night that honored athletes for their accomplishments through the 2016-17 academic year, subdued moments be- cause some of the big winners (Steele Johnson, Ca- leb Swanigan, Jake Replogle, Ashley Morrissette) weren't there and also considerable celebrations for others winners — volleyball was particularly excit- ed and vocal after their team award, and the biggest cheers of the night often were for track and field and diving. "I thought it went well," Johnson said. "We were just trying to have fun." The night started with Johnson running on stage in an elf costume, which would seem to have no meaning except that he's obsessed with Christ- mas, so he likes to wear the costume on occasion throughout the year and this event provided an- other opportunity, while Thomas was more relaxed in a basketball jersey, which allowed her to easily move. The banter to start the 90-minute show was Fresh Approach To Golden Pete Awards New hosts highlight evening Tom Campbell Walk-on football player Race Johnson and All-America track athlete Brionna Thomas hosted the awards on April 24.

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