» By CONOR SCRUTON – cscruton@my.apsu.edu

As part of Homecoming festivities, the Govs Programming Council held its annual AP Apollo talent show on Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the Red Barn. Contestants have less than six minutes to show they have what it takes to win the $500 first-place prize. This year’s show had 34 acts, with performers offering musical numbers to clogging and comedy sketches.

Nikki Talley took first place with her a capella rendition of Lauren Hill’s “Killing Me Softly.” When asked how it felt to win AP Apollo, Talley said, “It feels kind of unreal … and $500 is a lot of money.”

The second place winner of $200 was Molly Swiatek, who sang Adele’s “One and Only,” accompanied by Aric Marine on keyboard. The $50, third-place prize was awarded to Madeline Kiser for her show-closing performance of Reba McEntire’s song “Why Haven’t I Heard from You.”

After Kiser finished performing, the AP Pom Squad performed a dance routine while the judges chose the three finalists, who were to be placed later through the audience’s applause.

The contest was judged by Carrie Harris, Kim Morrow and Gregory Singleton. “It was difficult, but we [came to] a consensus,” Morrow said.

After the finalists were brought back onstage, the applause for each performer was thunderous, but there was no mistaking who their favorite act had been. “I’m really glad Nikki won,” said freshman Emily Thomas. “You could tell everyone was rooting for her.”

Second-place winner Swiatek recalled the shared anticipation among the contestants backstage. “Everybody wanted to listen to everybody,” she said. “A lot of us have become close friends.”

The event has seen a major increase in acts since last year, from about 17 to 34 this year. The increase created more competition, but also allowed for a more shared experience.

“I always have a good time on stage,” said Dalton Akins, who performed a clogging/swing dancing number with partner Crystal Gordon. Singer Sara Groves said, “It’s super fun. You can be whoever you want to be on stage.”

AP Apollo was open to all students and the Clarksville Community. For any APSU students interested in showing their talents, it’s never too early to start preparing for next year’s show. TAS