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UHV opens new student lounge

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Nov. 29, 2010 at 5:29 a.m.

Eric Garza, of Falfurrias, left, takes a shot as Robert Cardona, or Corpus Christi, watches and taunts him while the two play the inaugural game of pool at the grand opening of the student lounge Monday at the University of Houston-Victoria's Jaguar Hall. The lounge, officially named 1159, also features a big screen television and a Wii video game system for students to use.

Isaac Babaloa bounced in his chair to the beat of a hip-hop song as he mashed chicken nuggets in his mouth. Babaloa guzzled water and calmed his jitters for Jaguar Hall's chicken nugget eating contest, which celebrated the opening of its new student lounge Monday evening.

"I just had to get some redemption from the last competition I was in," he said. "I was robbed ... I was telling myself I may have to retire from eating competitions."

It was the 18-year-old University of Houston-Victoria freshmen food lover's shot at redemption after losing a UHV pie-eating contest. After his team stuffed away 60 nuggets, he won as his classmates hooted and snapped photos in the lounge.

"It feels good," he said. "I feel like a winner."

The lounge, named 1159 by students, was remodeled from the former Inn Place Hotel's bar area, and will now be a place for late-night study or entertainment.

"As the campus extends and makes room for freshmen, it's just going to be an exciting thing that a lot of dorms don't have. Each individual area has it's own feel," said Lindsey Koch, director of student life and services, about the hall. "You have to have several different places where students can study and fill their time up."

Koch said students picked the name because it is often the p.m. deadline for online assignments, and will be a popular place to work.

"That's when they'll be in there trying to get it all done," she said.

Monday evening, students poured into the lounge through a small ocean of balloons.

Tamara Hamisi, 18, bounced into the lounge screaming. After months of waiting for the room to open, she was ecstatic to see the inside and learn to play pool.

"They're trying their best to really fix this up," she said. "But it's OK. We're excited how it's going to turn out next year."

Babaloa, spared from eating-contest retirement, believes the night among friends, music and chicken nuggets was a success.

"That was my key strategy," he said. "Just busting a move and chewing my food."

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