Twirls and cheers dominated the 32nd annual Talent Search, which featured 18 acts from students.

Sarah Hirschbeck, a freshman chemistry major, won the overall competition — as well as the freestyle category — with her self-choreographed baton twirling to the “Spider-Man” theme song by Michael Bublé. Hirschbeck won $1,000 in scholarships for her two wins. 

Hirschbeck said Spider-Man is her favorite superhero, and the love for the comic book character influenced her routine. She said it took about three weeks to get the routine memorized and mastered, and she had no drops during her performance in John R. Emens Auditorium Oct. 18. Hitting a perfect routine isn't easy, Hirschbeck said, but the allure of twirling batons has always made her love the activity even more.

Category winners each received a $500 scholarship and included:

Original Composition: Akili McDuffey, "Wonderful"

Duet: Carrington Anderson and Kayla Robertson, "The Closer I Get to You"

Freestyle: Sarah Hirschebeck, baton twirling to "Spider-Man"

A Cappella: Unexpected Resolution

Male Vocal: Chase Thiebaut, "I Won't Give Up"

Female Vocal: Katherine Tabisz, "Skyscraper"

“When I was in third grade, I went to a varsity football game and the marching band had a baton twirler, and so when I saw her I told my mom I wanted a baton,” Hirschbeck said. "I came home with a sheet of extracurricular activities one day from school and baton twirling was on it, so my mom signed me up and so I’ve been twirling ever since."

Hirschbeck said her favorite performance venue is not on stage, but rather on the field as feature twirler for the Ball State Pride of Mid-America marching band.

“That’s my favorite part — just to get to perform for people and put smiles on their faces,” she said. “I’ve gotten people yelling, screaming, one time I was twirling and someone started fist pumping … the louder the crowd, the better.”

Hirschbeck has had numerous soloist performances with her baton, including one in downtown Disney World. She said she hopes to twirl at Ball State basketball games and any other opportunity she gets while at school.

“Homecoming means to me just the whole school coming together and doing all these fun events and all the alumni coming back,” she said. "I can’t wait to be an alumni to come back for an event like this."

Katie Reynolds, a senior organizational communication major, served as Talent Search Chair on the Homecoming Steering Committee and started planning the event in March 2016. She said she was impressed by Hirschbeck's performance — and those of all the other participants — and was "thrilled" with the turnout of the Talent Search.

“I’ve been in performance all my life, and I thought it would be really interesting to be on the other side of it. As a member of University Singers, I was also really involved in Homecoming, so I kinda wanted to be planning it this year,” Reynolds said.

This is Reynolds’ first year serving on a committee, and she coordinated everything that had to be done for Talent Search. Although it was a lot of work, Reynolds said it was all worth it in the end.

“The experience has been great … the people that I’ve met and the things that I’ve learned from it have been awesome. To see it come to life tonight has really been great, and I just can’t be more thankful for this experience,” Reynolds said. “[Homecoming] is really cool because it’s a celebration between community and the school and alumni, so I’ve always thought that was pretty amazing.”