Seniors Madeline Basso and Cooper Benning were crowned the 2022 Viking Days royalty during the coronation ceremony on Oct. 12.
Students had the opportunity to vote for the two candidates out of ten royalty court members: Sadbi Bravo, Tatiana Chance, Courtney Chrystal, Jose Cruz Medina, Colin Ferri, Kellie Geigle, Kinzie Gullikson and Nacho Larios.
Benning said he was grateful to be awarded the title.
“I just wanted to immediately go and hug everybody and attempt to say thanks for this honor,” Benning said.
Basso said she felt honored when she heard her name, as she thought the other candidates were a solid group of people.
“I knew everybody was such a good candidate, and everybody was super involved,” Basso said. “When they said my name, I was kind of in a shock. It’s more than just a vote. It is a true connection that you’ve made with the person over the years because that connection is what led them to say, ‘You’re who I look up to.’”
Benning is from Lennox, South Dakota. He is majoring in business communications and plans to pursue an inside sales representative position with Long Creek Steel after graduation. This year, Benning has been involved with Rec Services at the Elmen Center, the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and as a student ambassador.
Basso is from Rapid City, South Dakota. She is majoring in exercise science on the physical therapy track with three minors in chemistry, biology and psychology. She plans to apply for physical therapy graduate school to earn her doctorate with the goal of working in pediatrics. Basso is also a Viking Advisor on the second floor of Wagoner and the President of SKOL. She attends SALT and Pinky Swear events and is involved in numerous intramural sports.
Benning and Basso said they’ve been friends since freshman year. They recalled how it snowed during their first Viking Days parade.
For the coronation ceremony, last year’s royals, Taha Afzal and Becca Ziems, returned to speak about their lives after graduation. Both stuck around Sioux Falls, with Afzal working at Raven Industries and Ziems teaching Spanish at Sioux Falls Christian.
In the days after coronation, both royals shared words of advice for the student body.
Benning said he wants students to be mindful of enjoying experiences on campus.
“My piece of advice is to take each moment you have with individuals, students or faculty on campus and around, as an opportunity to give life, to give energy, to inspire, to provide advice, to just be nice,” Benning said.
Basso said she hopes students try to get to know people on campus and build lasting relationships.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to people,” Basso said. “Everybody wants to share their story of how they got here and where they came from. That little connection can make a long-time friendship.”