Kayla Byler / Lantern photographer
Assistant men’s fencing coach Yury Molchan moonwalked his way to victory across St. John’s Arena for his team in the fifth annual Buckeyes Got Talent show Tuesday night.
Molchan, a Russia native, won the competition with the help of four team members, dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” decked out in vintage apparel, complete with a wig. The other four members came in at the end and acted out parts of the official “Beat It” music video.
“It showed that a lot of people like dance,” Molchan said. “This is a special experience for me because it was my first time, and I was a little nervous.”
Nine other teams competed in the event in front of a crowd of about 995, including OSU basketball standouts Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas, and athletic director Gene Smith.
Throughout the act, Molchan’s moves elicited loud cheers and looks of awe from the crowd. Molchan said he had practiced the dance for eight years, performing it at Columbus-area venues.
“I love Michael Jackson and I just though it was awesome,” fourth-grade Boys & Girls Club of Columbus member Amirah Lomax, a guest judge, said into the microphone, nearly breathless. “I just loved it.”
Sullinger and Thomas got to the event early to sign autographs for the kids, but Sullinger said they had no big encore to match “Party in the O-S-U.”
“We aren’t performing tonight but check me out on YouTube. I’m a one-hit wonder,” Sullinger said with a grin, dancing in his chair.
Fresh off an NCAA championship, the men’s volleyball team came up just short with a runner-up finish. Sophomore Eric Dates performed a romantic ballad on his acoustic guitar for his new girlfriend, Amanda, called “The Beginning,” along with help from freshman Coleman Palm on bass.
Palm had just learned the song the day of the competition, but Dates had been crafting the piece for two weeks.
“I had been tricking her for a couple weeks and saying that I would play it for her soon,” Dates said. “She was really surprised though, so it all worked out.”
Dates pulled out his electric guitar to play “We are the Champions” to cap off the performance as the rest of the team walked on the stage.
Senior defensive lineman Evan Blankenship represented the football team and took third place with his acoustic version of Rihanna’s “California King Bed.” Blankenship had taken runner-up twice in years past.
“I think it was a good way to finish my four years being here (OSU),” Blankenship said. “I love the song, though I don’t ever want to hear it again after practicing it so much. (Rihanna’s) a great artist and I’m happy to get third because the fencing team did their thing to win out there.”
Blankenship said he practiced the song for three hours a day all this week to prepare.
Singing in the football locker room is a must for Blankenship, who said his teammates are always asking him if he will win it all this year. Though he did not pull it off, Blankenship said the event is a great cause and he was happy to do it again.
The sum of Blankenship’s work in the competition did not go unnoticed to infamous Buckeye basketball bench-warmer Mark Titus, who returned to Columbus to be on the six-judge panel.
“We are really going to miss Evan,” Titus said to the crowd after Blankenship’s Rihanna rendition. “He has done a great job every year.”
Titus was also able to employ his musical prowess that landed him his judge gig after the men’s golf team performed the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way,” which was accompanied by electric guitar.
“When the first note, or whatever it is called, was played, I knew it was going to be great,” Titus said, as the judges all laughed.
Many of the performers have had experience in the competition in years past. A big reason for coming back to the performance, beyond the charity, is getting to interact with the other teams, Dates said.
“They (other teams) are so supportive,” Dates said. “No matter what you do, they are just going to give you a big hug afterwards and say you did a great job. I look forward to it (Buckeyes Got Talent) from the day I step foot on campus.”