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Finalists to compete in Mountaineer mascot cheer-off event

The four finalists to be the 69th Mountaineer mascot stand at the end zone on Mountaineer field. The four are all wearing tops with the Flying WV on their left shoulders and they are standing with their arms crossed.

The finalists competing to be the 69th Mountaineer mascot stand on Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, Feb. 15, 2023. They are (from left to right) Mikel Hager, Christian Adkins, Braden Adkins and Bailey Gatens. (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

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(Editor's note: Bailey Gatens decided to withdraw as a Mountaineer mascot finalist after the cheer-off competition.)

Four students who are eager to represent West Virginia University and their home state as the 69th Mountaineer mascot will compete in a cheer-off competition during the men’s basketball game versus Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Monday (Feb. 20) in the WVU Coliseum.

Selected by a committee of faculty, staff and students based on an essay and interview, the four finalists vying for the title will be judged on their performances and interactions with the crowd as they lead traditional game cheers.

The West Virginia natives, who come from a variety of academic backgrounds, are resolute advocates for the University and the Mountain State and are ready to serve both as the next mascot.

The 2023-24 Mountaineer mascot finalists are:

Braden Adkins, from Richwood, is a sophomore majoring in business administration. He is a member of the WVU Beekeeping Club and volunteers his time with The Rack: WVU Student Food Pantry. Adkins was on the fall 2022 President’s List.

“The Mountaineer mascot is not only an ambassador for our University, but also for the dedicated, hardworking people of the Mountain State,” Adkins said. “As a young person from rural West Virginia, I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve in this role.”

Christian Adkins, a member of the Honors College from Amherstdale, is a freshman biology major. He serves as a member of the Mountaineer Maniacs and a digital media intern for Athletics. Adkins is a recipient of the PROMISE Scholarship.

“As a proud West Virginian, it would mean the world to me to represent our great University and state in such a unique way,” Adkins said. “It would be an honor to cheer on the Mountaineers as the new mascot.”

Bailey Gatens, from St. Albans, is a junior social work major minoring in gerontology. She serves as a member of the Collegiate 4-H and Country Line Dancing clubs and a tour leader for the WVU Visitors Center.

“I have dreamt of serving as the Mountaineer mascot since I was a little girl,” Gatens said. “An opportunity to represent the state and University that inspired that little girl to shoot for the stars would be the honor of a lifetime.”

Mikel Hager, from Madison, is a senior exercise physiology major minoring in psychology and communication studies. He is a four-year member of the WVU Gold Cheer Team and volunteers his time at Suncrest Elementary School as a math tutor. Hager is also a recipient of the PROMISE Scholarship.

“Being selected as the Mountaineer mascot would mean the absolute world to me and my small town of Madison,” Hager said. “Representing Mountaineer Nation and the people of West Virginia as the 69th Mountaineer would be a prestigious opportunity.”

VIDEO: Meet the Mountaineer mascot finalists.

The selection committee will announce the winner during the WVU men’s basketball game versus Kansas State on March 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.



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