Stetson student Mari Hanley goes out singing at 2017 Jeopardy! College Championship

Mari Hanley

Stetson University student Mari Hanley didn’t advance to the finals of the 2017 Jeopardy! College Championship during the episode that aired Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Mari Hanley
Stetson student Mari Hanley appears on the set of “Jeopardy!” during the TV game show’s 2017 college tournament. The junior history major finished second in her semifinal round. Photo from

But the enthusiasm and the singing voice – yes, the singing voice – of the junior history major impressed the crowd of some 70 students and faculty gathered at a viewing party at the Hollis Center on Stetson’s DeLand campus.

Hanley, who finished second in her semifinal round, was unable to attend the viewing party due to an illness, said her friend and fellow Stetson student Gabbie Paredes. But that didn’t stop the crowd from cheering wildly, especially when host Alex Trebek read an “answer” from the category, “What’s that Song.”

“Omi was rah-rah for this title gal who was always ‘Right there when I need her,’ ” Trebek said.

“What is a cheerleader?” Hanley sang in response, prompting the viewing party crowd to burst into raucous cheering and laughter.

Going into the Final Jeopardy round, Hanley had $15,000, as did her opponent Netanel Paley of Yeshiva University in New York City. Gary Tse, a freshman at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., led with $22,995.

The Final Jeopardy category was “Presidential Campaign Years” and the answer was: “Year the New York World lamented ‘The age of statesmen is gone, the age of rail-splitters and tailors has succeeded.’ ”

All three competitors missed the correct question of “What is 1864?” Hanley’s $10,000 wager thus left her with $5,000, placing her second. Tse’s $7,006 wager left him with $15,989, and so he advanced to the college tournament finals.

“I knew Mari was going to do well, so it was no surprise to me that she got a wildcard because she’s a wildcard herself,” Paredes said, alluding to Hanely’s success in the first round of the tournament. “It is a little sad because she does excel in American history. But she put her heart into it. She had fun and obviously Alex Trebek loved her and the people at ‘Jeopardy!’ loved her – they showed her in all the promos. I’m really proud of her.”

Among the faculty who attended were Leander Seah, assistant professor of history; Rachel Core, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology; Paul Croce, professor of history and director of American studies; and Michele Skelton, associate professor of health sciences.

“It was good to see so much school spirit and everybody cheering her like they would at any sporting event,” Core said. “I loved that she sang on camera – that was wonderful. In class she’s always enthusiastic, so it was appropriate that she was so enthusiastic.”

“She knew a lot of stuff, but she also had a really good stage presence,” Croce said. “She was really poised and very energetic, very enthusiastic, which is always her personal style anyway.”

— Rick de Yampert