“This wasn’t a race,” Bastion Crider said Saturday afternoon. “It was four individual wars against some incredible wings.”

He had just finished the Buffalo Wild Wings March Madness Blazin’ Challenge in Indianapolis.

Crider didn’t walk away with tickets to the NCAA Final Four games, but he was happy to compete.

“It was a battle against some super-hot wings, the way it was meant to be,” he told The Courier-Times. “I didn’t have the fastest time, but I sure didn’t lose.”

Like prime-time TV wrestlers, Bastion Crider and his fellow pepperheads stepped into the spotlight to theme music and an official announcer’s introduction.

“I think when you’re eating the wings, it’s you against you,” Crider said told the emcee before the clock started. “It’s right out of a Survivor song or a Rocky movie.”

The man from New Castle wasn’t just doing battle with three other B-dubs fans and the ticking clock; he was squaring up with the Carolina Reaper, currently the hottest pepper on Planet Earth.

He attacked the wings just like he’d practiced at the New Castle B-dubs. Bite, swallow. Don’t waste time chewing.

A referee stood nearby to make sure the meat was stripped off each bone.

Something went awry around the 1:20 mark as Bastion (“Bash” to his friends) was working on his sixth wing. He paused and began coughing. Coincidentally, the announcer had just explained how heat of the Blazin’ Carolina Reaper sauce builds over time.

bdubs follow.jpg

New Castle’s own Bastion Crider reacts to the creeping heat of Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ Carolina Reaper sauce during his Final Four competition Saturday.

“By the time you get to three or four wings, it is kicking like an angry mule,” the announcer said, as Crider took several deep breaths at the challengers’ table.

“Whoo!” Crider hooted with a smile, his enthusiasm rekindled as he snatched up the remaining wings.

His official time was 2 minutes, 34 seconds.

The championship title went to Chris D., from Plainfield, with a time of 1:37. Each of the runners up finished in the two-minute zone.

“I’m proud of my performance,” Crider said. “There are ways it could have been faster, but there are more ways it could have gone worse.”

According the contest website, the Final Four runners up didn’t go home empty-handed.

From the first round of 32 speed-eaters, they each got a $25 B-dubs gift card. They picked up a $100 gift card after besting their challengers in the Sweet 16. The field dropped from 16 to four based on time, skipping the Elite 8. Their consolation prize from the Final Four competition was a $200 gift card. They also received a participation headband and 1,000 Blazin’ Rewards points.