Bloomington — Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington held its spring 2024 Duke it Out pitch competition where 20 entrepreneurship students showcased their businesses and 13 competed for $2,500 in cash prizes.

Winner Maria Norris, entrepreneur and owner of Dogwood Antiques, won the top prize of $1,250. Norris plans to use her award funds for inventory, market fees, and more. Her business focuses on promoting sustainability through the sale of antiques. Her items are currently sold in the Antique Mall in Edinburgh and flea market in Martinsville. “I began classes with the hope of understanding what was needed to start my own business and it has met my expectations,” Norris said.

The entrepreneurship program has made all the difference in launching my business.”

– Maria Norris, Entrepreneurship student

Runner-up Preston Wheelock, entrepreneur and owner of Wheelock Heating and Cooling, won $750. Wheelock Heating and Cooling is a family-owned business dedicated to providing top-notch HVAC services, with a customer-first approach.

Third place winner, Marilda Cerisha, entrepreneur and future owner of Choose Happy Food Truck, won $500 to put toward launching her business. Cerisha is a naturalized citizen from Albania and plans to introduce flavors of the Mediterranean into fast food. She currently offers catering and food subscriptions.

The graphic artwork for this year’s competition was created by Cooper Crouch, entrepreneurship student and owner of Testament Tattoo Co.

Judges for the competition included Chancellor Erik Coyne; Steve Dirk, Market President for First Financial Bank; Liz Irwin, Government and Community Relations Manager for Duke Energy; and Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill.

The Duke it Out pitch competition is powered by Duke Energy, Ivy Tech Bloomington Garatoni School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

Entrepreneurship classes begin August 19. Contact program chair Sueann Graham, at or 812-508-6805.

Ivy Tech Bloomington offers more than 40 career and four-year transfer programs, with courses that start multiple times per year for quick entry and graduation. To get started, apply for free online at, call 812-330-6013, or email For information on free, short-term training programs at Ivy Tech Bloomington, visit

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.