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SLU Students Celebrate Winning Trip to See NCAA Tournament

by Maggie Rotermund on 03/20/2019
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Thanks to generous donations, including that of SLU Trustee, benefactor and Billiken fan Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, Saint Louis University is sending 25 SLU students to watch the men’s basketball team compete in the NCAA Tournament in San Jose, California.

NCAA Ticket Lottery

Students gather outside Grand Hall Wednesday to see if they would be one of the winners of a trip to see the Billikens play this weekend in San Jose, California. Photo by Amelia Flood.

More than 1,300 students entered the ticket lottery and gathered Wednesday afternoon outside Grand Hall to hear SLU President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., call out the winners. 

"In many ways, the story arc of this team mirrors that of the city of St. Louis - scrappy, wholehearted, driven, relentless and unfazed by the critics," Pestello said. "This is St. Louis' basketball team."

Dr. Chaifetz announced his donation Tuesday afternoon on KFNS-590 The Fan's Midday Grind with Martin Kilcoyne. Click here to listen to the interview (Relevant audio begins at the 12:20 mark). Kilcoyne also highlighted the donation on KTVI-TV Ch. 2 news

The donations will cover airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to games on Friday night and Sunday (time TBD).

"I was watching Sunday's game on my flight back from spring break," said Kylee Humphreys, a junior who works in the Billiken ticket office. "I was trying not to scream - I was sitting next to a stranger."

Humphreys got to watch her co-worker Chandler Poppen be named as one of five alternates for the trip. Poppen, as the Billiken, can be seen in KMOV-TV Ch. 4's coverage as he accepts his alternate role. 

Billiken Wins

Billiken ticket office employees, from left, Kylee Humphreys, Billiken Chandler Poppen and Daniella Guanciale, attended the lottery Wednesday. Poppen was chosen as an alternate for the trip; Humphreys and Guanciale were going to try to make it to San Jose on their own Thursday. Photo by Maggie Rotermund

Humphreys said she and Daniella Guanciale, another Billiken ticket office employee, are going to try to fly out to the game Thursday night.

"My mom works for an airline - we are going to try standby," she said. 

Kyle Blievernicht, a graduate student in occupational therapy, said he has multiple brackets filled out already. 

"This is just so awesome," he said. "I can't believe I'm going."

During the ceremony, Dr. Pestello announced that another donation, this time from a couple wishing to remain anonymous, would fund the trip for 14 of SLU's biggest fans, members of the SLUnatics. 

The Lottery

The lottery opened Tuesday and students were required to enter the online contest form by 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 19. Participating students were required to be in attendance in order to accept the prize. 

See KSDK-TV Ch. 5's coverage of the lottery: 

The 13th seeded Billikens play the 4th seeded Virginia Tech Hokies at 8:57 p.m. (CST) Friday, March 22, in San Jose. The game will be televised on truTV. The winner of Friday’s game will face the winner of No. 5 Mississippi State/No. 12 Liberty on Sunday, March 24.

Stay up-to-date with all the Billiken NCAA action