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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
<p>Danza wins first place in the dance category at Gator Growl Talent Night Wednesday night at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. The dance team will perform at Gator Growl Nov. 9.</p>

Danza wins first place in the dance category at Gator Growl Talent Night Wednesday night at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. The dance team will perform at Gator Growl Nov. 9.

UF students sang, danced, juggled and rapped at Gator Growl’s Talent Night at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom on Wednesday.

The performers showcased their Gator pride and American patriotism in accordance with the Homecoming theme, “United We Growl.”

Organizers raised $530 Wednesday and about $1,000 total, said Talent Night director Lauren Herstik, a 21-year-old advertising junior. The Wounded Warrior Project will receive 50 percent of the proceeds.

Fifth-year English student Kimberly Percuoco, 22, won the National Anthem competition, which means she’ll open Gator Growl with her rendition of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” Nov. 9. Danza and The Sedoctaves will also perform that night onstage at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Talent Night added a National Anthem face-off to its competition for the first time this year. The crowd stood as Girl Scout Troupe 1029, Caira Danielle Everly and Kimberly Percuoco each sang Wednesday.

After, 14 individual contestants and groups competed in the music and dance categories.

Erica Mason rapped fast and bounced around stage in high heels. David Ferman juggled various items — including six balls, five pins and five knives — at different times while riding a unicycle. Sabor Latino dancers flashed in red and yellow costumes as they performed to Ne-Yo and Beyoncé songs and salsa music, at one point flooding into the aisles.

Gator Growl will not be the first time Percuoco performs the country’s anthem in a sport stadium.

Percuoco has performed at Marlins games for seven years.

But Wednesday night, Percuoco said, she stopped breathing when her name was announced as the National Anthem winner.

Her mom, who drove four hours from Jupiter to watch her perform, ran in front of the stage to take photos of Percuoco accepting her trophy.

Although she’s not anxious about performing in a stadium packed with about 20,000 fans, she said “I’m going to be nervous when I see Josh Turner.”

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Danza wins first place in the dance category at Gator Growl Talent Night Wednesday night at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. The dance team will perform at Gator Growl Nov. 9.

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