Miner, Simons Earn Top Prize

Wesley-Miner.jpgAnother edition of the annual Central’s Got Talent scholarship competition at Central Methodist University brought almost two dozen of the state’s best high school musicians and vocalists to Fayette on February 9. This year’s winners, receiving full-tuition scholarships to CMU, were Wesley Miner of Fayette and Matthew Simons of West Plains.

Miner and Simons were among six finalists in the competition, along with Ethan Schaefferkoetter of Ballwin, Lauren Shields of Gerald, Sieanna Toombs of Fayette, and Tristan Wallach of Macon. All the finalists recognized what an intense day of competition it was and what a high level of talent was on display throughout the day.

“The day [was] really fun and I’ve enjoyed performing and listening to everyone perform,” said Miner, whose performance of Edward Gregson’s tuba concerto earned him a grand prize. “CMU was just a great atmosphere to be around today.”

As a Fayette native with familial ties to Central, Miner has firsthand knowledge of the music department at the school and is looking forward to being a part of it even more come the fall.

“It feels really nice to have that [financial] part of my life locked in with such an amazing school,” he said. “I know that everyone here wants me to succeed and that all the staff here are really nice and want to take care of you and make sure that you’ll do well.”

Matthew-Simons.jpgWhile Simons may not have as direct links to CMU, he agreed that the reputation of the Central music department played a big role in drawing him to the school.

“A lot of [my interest in CMU] came from teachers in my area who are Central graduates and who I looked up to because they were very excellent teachers,” said Simons. “I want to live up to and be like them in my pursuit of music education, and they always told me a lot of good stories about Central Methodist being the school for music. It really inspired me to want to go here.”

Like Miner, Simons competed in the instrumental portion of the talent competition, improving on a clarinet piece he previously performed for a state competition, with somewhat disappointing results.

“I really learned a lot of things from playing the solo, and I know there were always things to improve, and that was really the case with this piece,” he said of his performance of Paul Jeanjean’s Arabesques.

Miner and Simons made up the finalists in the instrumental category of competition, while Wallach and Schaefferkoetter earned first and second place, respectfully, in the vocal category. Toombs was the first-place finisher in the praise band category, with Shields earning second place.

In a first for the competition, Moberly Area Community College student Tyler Hershey of Keytesville competed as a part of the CentralMACC Program in which students can co-enroll at both schools.

The rest of the competition field included Harmony Andrews of Reeds Spring, Meredith Ash of Cape Girardeau, Elizabeth Bergfield of Harrisburg, Elizabeth Berry of Odessa, Gessica Bruce of Fulton, Rachael Cupp of Marceline, Kyle Drewes of Williamsburg, Owen Flores of Warrenton, Ethan Herring of Kirksville, Gabriella Jacobs of Jefferson City, Kamiah Kelly of Columbia, Kai Lipe of Fayette, Richelle Milburn of Fayette, Chase Paquin of Sullivan, Brandon Prince of Pevely, and Nikki Ulrich of Villa Ridge. All the participants have been offered music scholarships to Central.

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