“We are overwhelmed by the response and caliber of all participants from Ohio,” Melissa Pitchford, executive director of the Miss Universe organization said. “There is no better opportunity for ambitious young women out there today. The Miss Ohio USA competition offers women in the state an opportunity to advance their personal and professional goals and includes over $1 million in college scholarships to the winners, finalists and semi-finalists.”
Competing locally were Erica Herrforth, Taylor Weaver, Ali Suttles, Morgan Lackey, Cara Beth Wagner, Allie Wagner, Holli Mauk and Briana Otworth.
“With all of the out-of-town participants coming in and supporting the Miss Ohio USA pageant, I definitely appreciate the participation from local ladies that support this pageant. That’s the reason it keeps coming back here year after year,” said Kim Bauer, chairman of the Miss Ohio USA Host City Committee
The competition began Friday evening, and the final competition began at 3 p.m. on Saturday, consisting of three proportional segments: evening gown, fitness/swimsuit, and the final question at the interview portion. Judging criteria included poise, confidence, character and personality. There is no performing talent required.
In the end, Miss West Portsmouth Moran Lackey made it to the final five among Miss Ohio USA Teen, along with Miss Columbus Grove Jena Diller, Miss Warren County Kendall Fein, Miss Kettering Cathy Jackson and Miss Avon Morgan Smigel.
Lackey was named fourth runner-up, and Smigel was crowned by Miss Ohio Teen USA 2010, Bridget Linton of Green (Summit County).
“It’s been so much fun. The girls were so nice. I love them all and they were so supportive. I’m going to Facebook them all right when I get home,” Smigel said.
Holli Mauk (Miss Scioto County Teen) was named Most Photogenic.
In the Miss Ohio USA pageant, Miss Wheelersburg Allie Wagner made it to the final five, along with Miss Gates Mill Agne Pilijevaite, Miss Dublin Kay Potaraju, Miss Middle Point Ayla Eley and Miss Northwest Ohio Ashley Caldwell.
Wager was named fourth runner-up, and Caldwell was crowned by Miss Ohio USA 2010, Amanda Tempel of St. Bernard (Hamilton County). Caldwell is from Gallipolis, but she is a senior at Shawnee State University studying dental hygiene.
“Most girls just bawl their eyes out, and I completely understand that because it was such a dream, but it hasn’t hit me yet,” Caldwell said.
Asked if it was going to be strange going back to school after being crowned Miss Ohio USA, Caldwell said it wouldn’t be.
“We have mid-terms coming up and I’ve got to focus on my school next week,” she said.
The prize list includes travel, wardrobe, college scholarships and most importantly the honor to represent the state of Ohio in the ultimate pageant — Miss USA — which will be telecast live in primetime on NBC.
“This was a great celebration of 10 years, and we’re looking forward to future years. Of course we had the great hospitality and sponsors once again that made this a great success. I’m excited to meet the young ladies the judges selected, and start preparing for the national competition,” Pitchford said.
Asked if the pageant would return to Portsmouth next year, she said they would begin those conversations soon and see what happens.
For more information on the pageant or contestants, visit them online at www.missohiousa.com.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.