Mr. Mountain Lion Roars for the 19th Year


Hannah Reed

On Thursday, April 20, 2023, the 19th annual Sierra Vista High School pageant event, Mr. Mountain Lion, featured seven male members of the senior class in a contest of their charisma and stage presence. From left to right, Ralph Pedraza (Mr. Photogenic), Nathan Cuyugan (Mr. Betty Crocker), Carson Baxter, Xavier Santos, Dakota Miller (Mr. Charming), and Teagan Thomson, hold up Maurice Carney, the winner of Mr. Charitable and Mr. Mountain Lion.

Hannah Reed, staff reporter

On Thursday, April 20, 2023 at 6 pm, screaming students, adoring audience members, and proud parents and staff piled into the Sierra Vista High School theatre to attend the highly anticipated, 19th annual event, Mr. Mountain Lion. Mr. Mountain Lion pits seven male members of the senior class and their female counterparts against one another in a contest of charisma and stage presence.

The event featured two entertaining hosts, Jennifer Morras and Quin Dottery, who each captivated the audience with their high energy, witty jokes, friendly banter, and undeniable chemistry. The show began with introductions from Morras and Dottery, followed by the first segment, “Walk-Outs/Interviews.” This segment featured Ralph Pedraza with his partner Lisa Hypes, Dakota Miller with his partner Samantha Marquez, Nathan Cuyugan with his partner Davyne Oglesby, Xavier Santos with his partner Leilah McCoy, Carson Baxter with his partner Saige Couturier, Teagan Thomson with his partner Jasmine Derry, and Maurice Carney with his partner Kaylee Everett. Each pair walked onstage to a song of their choice and performed a short choreographed dance before meeting Morras and Dottery to answer an interview question.

Quin Dottery (left) and Jennifer Morras (right), the two hosts of Mr. Mountain Lion, pose in front of the event backdrop created by Sophomore Class President, Christian Rebolledo, and Student Body President, Lourdes Fuentes. (h)

The next segment, “Talent Show” began with Xavier Santos who stunned the audience with an incredible card trick before performing a comedic disappearing act. After Santos, Dakota Miller’s natural stage presence shined as he performed an original song that enthralled the audience and judges. Following Miller, Teagan Thomson’s talent performance featured a comedic book reading that thoroughly entertained the audience. Subsequent to Thomson, Ralph Pedraza shocked the audience with his incredible talent as he showed off his instrumental skills with the Marimba. Thereafter, Carson Baxter “ate” in his performance as he actually showed off his ability to eat as many donuts as possible in the allotted time frame. Ensuing Baxter, Nathan Cuyugan performed an intimate, original ballad that featured his “astounding” vocals and incredible talent of playing the guitar. Proceeding Cuyugan, Maurice Carney dazzled the stage with his lip sync performance of Celine Dion’s infamous “My Heart Will Go On,” which featured him dressed up as Dion in a boat decorated like the Titanic.

Next up, a segment titled “Who’s Most Likely To…” featured all of the contestants on stage as they held up several small signs, each with the face of a different boy. In the game, the contestants held up the face of whoever they believed would be most fit for the “Who’s most likely to” scenario prompted by Morras and Dottery. Afterward, the contestants were joined on stage by the girls as they all participated in the next game, “Guess The Baby.” During the game, an extremely zoomed-in baby photo would appear on the projector screen and the contestants would have to guess whose baby photo it was.

Next, Morras and Dottery introduced the four judges, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Brown, Mrs. Foglia, and Mrs. Cuttita, in the next segment, “Judges Bios,” which revealed a short paragraph describing each judge along with what that judge would do if they won the lottery. Then, the contestants put on their best model outfits and strutted down the stage in the segment, “Cat Walk.” At the end of this segment, the audience enjoyed a surprise catwalk from the hosts and backstage crew.

The next segment, titled, “Pick Up Lines,” featured each boy putting on the charm for their female partner; however, each contestant’s attempts failed. Immediately following, a brand new segment entitled, “Finish The Lyric” featured the wonderful DJs of the Sierra Vista High School “SV Beats” program. The DJ’s played different songs and each boy had to finish singing the lyrics when the music abruptly stopped. This segment featured crowd favorite songs like “Baby” by Justin Bieber and “Party In The U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. Afterward, the highly anticipated dance segment, choreographed by Brooke Craig, Ava Crisostomo, and Lourdes Fuentes, certainly lived up to its expectations as each boy brought their rhythm and attitude to the stage. This choreographed mashup featured popularized TikTok songs and dances like Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2 by Ice Spice and Pink Pantheress and Umbrella by Rihanna.

From left to right, Maurice Carney, Nathan Cuyugan, Carson Baxter, Xavier Santos, Dakota Miller, Teagan Thomson, and Ralph Pedraza, the contestants of Mr. Mountain Lion, pose for the finale of the crowd favorite dance segment. ( Madison Lochel)

Next, the hosts introduced the process for crowning Mr. Charitable, raising money to fund a disability-accessible playground in support of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, a charity for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Shattering their goal of $600, the participants ended up raising $1000 between the week leading up to Mr. Mountain Lion and the donations raised at the event.

Without further ado, Morras and Dottery announced the winners of each category. The winner of Mr. Betty Crocker………Nathan Cuyugan who says, “Receiving Mr. Betty Crocker is one award that [he] definitely worked for and tried to promote a lot more to win.” The winner of Mr. Photogenic………Ralph Pedraza expresses that he was shocked to have won but he thought, “the highest chance [he] had to win in any category was Mr. Photogenic. But [he] thought it was really cool to win at the end of the day.” The winner of Mr. Charming………..Dakota Miller claims, “I’m not very surprised winning Mr. Charming. Just look at me, the way I talk and the way I move, who else could have won it?” And, finally, the winner of Mr. Charitable and Mr. Mountain Lion……….…… Maurice Carney states, “I am beyond grateful and happy to be Sierra Vista’s 2023 Mr. Mountain Lion and Mr. Charitable. Being Mr. Charitable is a little more honorable than being Mr. Mountain Lion in my heart because I know I did everything in my ability to make a change in our world and The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation/Gwendolyn’s Playground. Being Mr. Mountain Lion is fabulous. […] It’s like if you were an artist and you won your first Grammy.”

When asked about their favorite part of Mr. Mountain Lion, each one of the contestants talked about their enjoyment of the dance segment and getting to create fond memories with one another, all of their partners, and everyone who worked tirelessly to put on the event. Morras details, “I always love hosting and being in front of the crowd, especially in the moment it’s such a great feeling. I loved hosting with Quin and […] I know that crowd loved us and I wouldn’t have hosted with anyone else.” Quin says, “It was so much fun hosting and watching all the guys entertain everyone,” and, when asked if there was anything else he would like to say about the event, he replied, “My baby picture is cuter than Jen’s.”

In the words of Sierra Vista High School’s 2023 Mr. Mountain Lion and Mr. Charitable, Maurice Carney, “Do what makes you happy. Do not let anyone take your happiness away because you are scared of being judged.”

Sienna Nepa, Madalyn Reiter, Hannah Reed, Alyssa Pfannes, (second row) Toni Rich, and Emmy Divich, the backstage crew of Mr. Mountain Lion, poses in front of the event backdrop. (Madison Lochel)