Four finalists will don the buckskins and carry the rifle Monday (Feb. 12) in competition to be the 66th West Virginia University Mountaineer Mascot.

The cheer-off will be held during the men’s basketball game vs. Texas Christian University at 9 p.m. in the WVU Coliseum.

The four, all West Virginia natives, were selected by a committee of faculty, staff and students based on applications, essays and interviews. Finalists will be judged on their performance and interaction with Monday’s crowd.

The finalists are: Timothy Eads, a freshman majoring in strategic communications from Buffalo; Trevor Kiess, a senior accounting major from Elkins; Jesse Lackey, a senior secondary education and English major from Salem; and Troy Salatino, a sophomore secondary education and history major from Wheeling.

Eads, a graduate of Buffalo High School, serves as a member of the Mountaineer Collegiate FFA and WVU Collegiate Farm Bureau. He volunteers with the Falling Run Trail repair project, mission trips to Clay County and helping high students interested in agricultural sciences. Eads has served as an undergraduate communications assistant for the WVU Extension Services Small Farm Center.

“It would be a tremendous honor to serve as the West Virginia University Mountaineer. I have always been a Mountaineer at heart, and it has been a long-time dream of mine to be the Mountaineer,” Eads said. “Serving the great state of West Virginia, and West Virginia University would give me the opportunity to give back to a state that has provided me with many opportunities. It would be an honor to share my love, pride and passion for WVU with the current students, future students, alumni and residents of West Virginia.”

Kiess, the current alternate Mountaineer mascot, is a graduate of Elkins High School. He is a member of the Honors College, Chimes Junior Honorary and Beta Gamma Sigma Honorary. He serves as an accounting intern for the WVU Foundation and a farm assistant with Cheat Riverbend Farms Inc. in Parsons. He has served as a student intern with the Office of the U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III in Washington, D.C., a student-athlete tutor, director of community service for the Mountaineer Maniacs, and is a former member of Students Optimistic for Curing Kids.

“Serving as the alternate Mountaineer mascot has been an amazing experience over the past year, and it would be the most incredible honor of my entire life to be selected as the Mountaineer mascot,” Kiess said. “Growing up a proud West Virginian, I know first-hand how much WVU means to West Virginia. My love and passion for both WVU and West Virginia have been a paramount part of my life, and it has been my dream to represent the people of the Mountain State as the Mountaineer for as long as I can remember.”

Lackey, a graduate of Doddridge County High School, is a founding father of the recolonized Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, a member of the WVU Collegiate 4-H Club, and volunteers with the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club. He is a Mountaineer and PROMISE Scholar and is a student teacher at University High School and a tutor with the Benedum Teacher Education Program. He volunteers with Empty Bowls Monongalia and Doddridge County Middle School as a physical education assistant.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity to become the next Mountaineer mascot. It takes me back to my country roots where I grew up in a house full of Mountaineer fans who have always admired the Mountaineer mascot’s undying pride for WVU and West Virginia,” Lackey said. “I hope to fully represent the Mountaineer pride found on campus, the state and across the country.”

Salatino, a graduate of Wheeling Park High School, serves as a resident assistant at Seneca Hall and is an active member of the WVU Resident Assistant Council, National Residence Hall Honorary, and Braxton Tower Community Council. He volunteers at the Sundale Nursing Home, Special Olympics bowling activities and Morgantown Boys and Girls Club.

“I would like to become the next Mountaineer mascot to better serve our state and West Virginia University,” Salatino said. “I am looking forward to meeting many new people, not only across the state, but also Mountaineers across the country.”

The selection committee will announce the winner during the WVU men’s basketball game vs. Iowa State on Feb. 24. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.