15 teams scarf down burritos in ‘Rice and Bean Pot’ relay

15 teams scarf down burritos in ‘Rice and Bean Pot’ relay

By Drew Bonifant

As 15 four-man teams gathered in the Northeastern round of the Qdoba Rice and Bean Pot burrito-eating contest last Wednesday, there were two items in abundant supply for the competition – burritos and confidence.

“We’ve got it,” Dan Jernberg, a freshman mechanical engineering major, said. “I don’t want to hear it, we’ve got it.”

In addition to the teams’ competitive natures, there were other reasons for participation in relay-race style contest where the only rules are one team member can’t start eating until the previous one finishes, and competitors must finish everything in their mouths.

“Free food, that’s our goal,” freshman architecture major Anthony Rash said before the event.

Though 60 people participated, Team Fisherman, captained by Chris Barone, won a spot in the Rice and Bean Pot final, with all members finishing their burritos in 4:04. The final competition is at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Paradise Rock Club.

The tournament began in a raucous atmosphere, as students, event coordinators and even a group from Boston University gathered to watch a demonstration of speed gluttony. Scott Bernstein, director of Blitz Live and Blitz Media, the company that helped organize the competitions, heightened the enthusiasm with a stirring introduction.

“Northeastern is always our strongest showing, every year,” Bernstein said, to loud applause from the crowd.

The event got off to a dramatic start as Lucky 13, the defending Northeastern champions, competed in the first heat and took an easy win, mowing through four burritos at 4:19 to set a high standard for the rest of the competition.

Team captain Anthony Vernale, a senior finance major, said the team’s defeat in the finals last year helped motivate them to the impressive showing this year.

“As soon as we heard about it, we were looking forward to it,” Vernale said. “Last year left a bitter taste in our mouths.”

The second heat produced a winner in Team Offensive, captained by Scott Caplan, a freshman physical therapy major. But with a time of 4:48, it appeared there would again be no match for Vernale and Lucky 13.

This wouldn’t be the case as Team Fisherman, a team with a typo for a name entered the picture. The group was originally named Team Fishman after a friend Dan Fishman, before the members chose the misspelling.

Ryan Graf led off, and by the time he, Dan DelRossi, Cory Szostowski and Barone were finished, only four minutes and four seconds had passed and there was a new leader in Northeastern’s hunt for the Rice and Bean Pot crown.

“We’ve come the last two years, and we came in second,” Barone said. “It’s time to win.”

Though there were still four heats to go, none of the remaining teams approached Team Fisherman’s benchmark, despite shouts of encouragement from an enthusiastic crowd.

In the end, Team Fisherman stood alone, and Barone had no concerns about his team’s ability to take on BU, Harvard and Boston College in the final.

“No, not a little bit,” he said. “I have faith in my team.”

Though not intimidated by the challenge at hand, Barone was not slacking in the lead-up to the finals.

“We’re practicing all week,” he said to his teammates. “Three burritos a day.”

Barone was reminded by a tournament coordinator that BU scored a winning time of 2:54 last year, more than a minute better than Team Fisherman’s preliminary mark.

“We need to lose a minute?” Barone said. “That’s doable. That’s not too bad.”

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