O Canada!

Raymond Ayala

There were a lot of people who attended the Saturday finals of the Collegiate Nationals Eating Championship, but no one stood out like Furious Pete Czerwinski’s cheering section. That raucous crowd helped the amateur eater from Canada win his first ever eating championship.

There were seven contestants in Saturday’s finals; four were chosen from colleges around the country, while the other three earned their spot at the Friday’s qualifiers.

#1 Christian “Muscox” McCarthy (Kentucky), #2 “Iron” Pete Czerwinski (McMaster), #3 Carey “Powerhouse Poehlman (Montgomery Country CC), #4 Brian “Eatin” Keaton (Maryland), #5 Darrin “D Money” Wolff (San Diego City), #6 Ryan “Big Mac” McMillan (Mesa) and #7 Chris “Scary Spice” Hanson (Grossmont/SDSU) all competed in the competition.

Their opponent was a Wave House platter, which consisted of a hamburger, a hot dog, and a handful of fries. The contestants had to knock off as many plates as possible in seven minutes

“Muscox” even added an interesting twist to the competition by choosing kool aid as his drinking tool, over the more popular choice of water.

“I like the flavor and I don’t drink much water, so the flavor of the kool aid helps,” McCarthy said.

The competition began with eating commissioner, Arnie “Chowbound” Chapman’s reading of the competitive eater vow, and after it was complete the feeding frenzy began.

From the beginning it looked like it was going to be a two-man race between McCarthy and Czerwinski, as both men began to devour their cheeseburgers at a fast pace. Just as the competition began to heat up, local favorite Wolff walked off the stage, conceding to the overwhelming amount of food before him.

The competition continued and after Czerwinski held up his third completed plate, and no other competitor had more then one, it was easy street for Pete.

Once the official results were tallied and the two minute period of “no returns” accounted for, the third place prize of $250 went to McMillan, who was the only qualifier to place in the competition. After competing only once previously, McMillan wowed the commissioner with his performance.

“Big Mac surprised me, he has great form and is an excellent eater,” said Chapman.

The second place finisher and winner of $500 was McCarthy. Muscox was a favorite to win this competition, especially with the experience he had over the other competitors. He did not disappoint the crowd, but he was a bit disappointed in his own performance.

The first place finisher and winner of $1000 was Canada’s Czerwinski. Czerwinski realized he should embark on an eating career after his friend Mike Helleyer sat down to breakfast with him.

“I realized how much more he ate then me, so I told Pete he should try to do competitions.” Helleyer said.

After that fateful meal, Czerwinski began consuming large amounts of food in hopes of competing in contests. Before this competition his claim to fame was completing a 72-ounce steak at a local restaurant near his school. Now Czerwinski can add another trophy to his growing mantle.

“I think I did a fine job considering the food was a bit cold and did not go down easy,” said Czerwinski.

Pete’s accomplishment was shared amongst his friends, who traveled all the way from Canada to cheer on their hero.

“Having my buddies with me really helped me out…it was great to see,” said Czerwinski. Czerwinski can now say he is the 2008 Collegiate Nationals Eating Champion, but what’s next for the man now known as far and wide as “Furious” Pete?

“I have a couple of events booked for July 1st, but this contestant was definitely a good stepping stone. Now hopefully I will be able to compete in even more events,” a victorious Czerwinski said.

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