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Competition Delimma

By Bob Labbe

Much like his longtime Elvis Presley impersonations, Christopher Gunner’s weekend of a Nov 30-Dec. 1 will be “all shook up”.

The 15-year old sophomore at Bob Jones has qualified for two state competitions, which are being held at the same time at different ends of the state.

Gunner will swim the 100-yard breast stroke and medley relay events at the State Swim Meet in Auburn and participate in the State Drama Competition as a member of the Patriot Players in Florence at the University of North Alabama. Both competitions are scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

“I’m crazy excited about both competitions and will work out a plan to participate in both state competitions,” said Gunner, whose father, Mike, is the swim team’s head coach.  “I’ve chosen the team over me as I will swim in the preliminary portion of the swim meet on Friday and race to UNA for the drama competition as be part of the team concept of that competition.”

Gunner is not alone in this dilemma. Fellow sophomore Nathan Rhodes is also deciding on a plan to attend both events.

“I’ll travel to Florence with the Drama Club for my competition in the Duet Competition, with my drama partner Will Beck, which begins at 10 a.m. on Friday and then head out with my father for the four-hour drive to Auburn for my swim events, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.,” said Rhodes, 15.
Gunner is scheduled for three competitions at the Drama State Competition. Two of his performances will be in individual events: Contemporary Comedic

Monolog and Contemporary Musical Theatre. His singing of “Song of the King” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, will be in “Elvis Style”, since Gunner is a huge fan of the “King of Rock and Roll”.

“Since I was age four I’ve always liked the sound of Elvis Presley and on occasions I do some impersonations of him for fun,” added Gunner.

The third event for Gunner will be the One-Act Play division where he and many of his fellow drama-mates will perform an original work titled “A Perfect Ending”.

The decisions both Gunner and Rhodes were faced with were perplexing for all involved. Rhodes came up with his plan for the scheduling nightmare with the assistance of his parents, Julio and Anna Rhodes. Gunner spoke with his parents Mike and Christian.

“I thought I could choose just one of the state competitions, but instead came up with my plan with the help of my parents,” said Rhodes. “My drama competition subject is ‘13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview’ and should be a good presentation. My drama coach, Mary Davis, saw that I had some talent as an actor and encouraged me to stay with drama. I’ve been swimming on the Bob Jones swim team since eighth grade. I like both programs.”

Gunner has been swimming for as long as he can remember once participating for both the Madison Dolphins and the Madison Swim Association. He remembered being at Bob Jones team practices with his father and begging to swim with the high school swim team. He added, “I would sometimes get in the way of the team swimmers, but they were always very kind and supportive of my efforts. My work at swimming has paid off as I’ve made the State Meet with good qualifying times,” added Gunner.

The off-season summer workouts were really beneficial to the 5-foot-10 Gunner as his weight lifting has made him thicker and stronger, which has helped him tremendously in his pull during his swim strokes.

His talents are wide ranging as his swim and acting talents are just the tip of the talent iceberg. Gunner also plays the French horn. He did so for the Discovery Middle School band, but has since dropped the playing of the horn and replaced that time with his work in theatre.

“I have had numerous career dreams,” said Gunner. “Those dreams have included swimming in the Olympics, acting on Broadway or more, and working at Disney World in designing the park’s scenery and rides.”