Mission Possible: Koetter named Mr. GCU
Story by Cooper Nelson
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University President and CEO Brian Mueller had one quest for students Thursday night at the 13th annual Mr. GCU, a male beauty pageant that was themed, “Mission Possible.” Said Mueller, “Find ‘Bae.’”
To kick off the popular event in GCU Arena, Mueller was depicted in a black and white video, filmed like the popular Tom Cruise movie “Mission Impossible” from which the pageant got its theme. In the video, Mueller, after deliberating with members of the University’s executive staff, tasks Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin with helping students finding the missing bae.
(Before we reveal who won the prestigious title of Mr. GCU, we probably should start by defining the object of the mission. Unless you were one of the nearly 3,500 students at the event, you may not know what a “bae” is. We’ll let emcee Julia Bates, GCU’s student activities coordinator, have the honor.)
“To find the definition of ‘bae,’ you have to look in the dictionary … unfortunately, it’s not in the dictionary,” Bates said. “So I had to ask a student, and the true definition is your babe or significant other.”
After the 12 contestants performed in a talent competition and a “Baewatch” swimsuit fashion show, the field was narrowed to four for the interview segment. In the end, sophomore Joseph Koetter, an early crowd favorite, was crowned the 2015 Mr. GCU. Other finalists included Adam Jacobson, Stefan Marin and David Lemus. Lemus was named “Bae,” a title similar to “Mr. Congeniality” that was chosen by fans tweeting. Both winners were awarded Build-a-Bear stuffed teddy bears wearing tuxedos.
Koetter and Lemus were the standouts in the talent competition, which included a few musical numbers and a lot of dancing. The overall talent was creative and sometimes a little offbeat.
Adam Jacobson, a nursing student, tore off a track suit to reveal purple scrubs then helped a male student dressed as a female “give birth” to another male student in a skin-tone leotard. Connor Rhodes and his roommate Andrew Rasmussen performed a ballet routine while keeping a beach ball pressed between their bodies. Tanner Digby, dressed like Richard Simmons, led four males in 1970s workout garb in an aerobics routine to the popular “Frozen” song, “Let it Go.” And Bikonzie Moise and his hype team waged a rap battle against Skeeter and the Farm Boys from Louisiana. Click here for a slideshow.
Koetter and Lemus took more sentimental and personal approaches with their talents. Lemus, who grew up singing and boasts some impressive pipes, belted the Backstreet Boys’ hit, “I Want It That Way,” while the audience sang along and waved illuminated cell phones. Koetter went more personal, reciting an emotional rap chronicling his hardships growing up in a divorced home and always relying on Christ to persevere.
Judge Paul Danuser, a College of Education assistant professor and announcer at men’s basketball games, called Koetter “Jesus’ ‘bae’” after his performance. Other judges included communications professor Jessie Farmer, alumnus and reigning Mr. GCU James Pridgee and GCU parent program coordinator Jeanne Lind.
Koetter said he wanted his talent to express his true self – a Christian who was saved by the grace of God.
“I’ve been rapping since I was 15 and I took parts of everything I’ve written and put it together with my testimony,” the 20-year-old said. “Being vulnerable like that was tough, but looking at what Christ did, being vulnerable on the cross, gave me peace and reassurance.”
Koetter said winning Mr. GCU comes with the responsibility of representing the University. He hopes to use his new title to reach students on campus, starting with emceeing “Immensely Valued,” a night to reassure others of their value to God. It is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday in Antelope Gym.
“In the grand scheme of things, winning Mr. GCU isn’t the most important thing in life, but I’m excited to use it as a platform to open new doors on campus,” he said. “I am just happy that I go to a university that hosts events like this where we can all come together and enjoy each other and have fun.”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 602-639-7511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.