Area well represented in state pageant

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Abbie Cook

SIKESTON - While the Miss Missouri Teen USA title went to a girl from Naylor, and the Miss Missouri USA crown to a Kansas City resident, this area was well represented during the pageants.

Among those competing in the event, which culminated with the coronations Sunday at the Music Hall in downtown Kansas City, were Laura Schuchart, 16, of Sikeston; Abbie Cook, 17, of Scott City; Jenna Johnson, 20, of Gideon; Ashley DeProw, 19, of Portageville; and Whitney Nelson, 18, of Caruthersville.

A total of 116 girls participated in the pageant - 61 Miss Missouri Teen and 55 Miss Missouri candidates - competing in evening gown, swimsuit and interview categories.

Schuchart said she had a good weekend, which was both "very stressful and exciting."

"It was really tiring but it was fun," Cook said. She explained the whole weekend was "a blur because we got no sleep. We got home at like 11 p.m. and had to get up at 5 a.m." in addition to "walking in heels non-stop."

Laura Schuchart

"It started Saturday - we did rehearsal all day and then we did the pageant that evening," Schuchart said. "All the preliminary stuff was Saturday. Sunday morning was the interviews."

Sunday night contestants repeated their opening number after which the top 15 were called out.

Andrea Ciliberti, 21, formerly "Miss North Kansas City," was crowned "Miss Missouri USA 2005; and Rachel Woolard, 16, who entered the contest as "Miss Black River Festival Queen," will wear the "Miss Missouri Teen USA 2005" crown. Ciliberti and Woolard will next compete for the "Miss USA" and "Miss Teen USA" titles, respectively, this spring at the national competitions.

Cook said it was fun "just meeting all the girls" who she described as all being "so nice."

"I think meeting Miss USA was the best part," she said, adding that it will be neat to watch Miss Teen USA on TV after having met her in person.

The highpoint of Schuchart's weekend actually took place as the result of what started as a personal crisis: "My dress got burnt," she explained, which happened when one of the lights around a dressing room mirror burned through her garment bag. "They fixed it for me, made it look even prettier than it was."

And for free, she added: "That's what he said he was there for. Everyone was really, really nice about it."

Schuchart said the other highpoint for her was seeing Woolard win as they are friends. "I didn't even make the top 15, and I was kind of upset about that," Schuchart recalled. "But when she made the top five I knew she was going to win. She deserved it more than anybody else."

Schuchart said she plans to go watch Woolard as she competes for the Miss Teen USA title.

Both Schuchart and Cook are undecided about trying for the Miss Missouri Teen crown in the future, but agreed it was an enjoyable time.

"It was one of the greatest experiences I'll ever go through," Cook said.

The Miss Missouri USA Pageant is produced by Vanbros and Associated of Overland Park, Kan., and the events are licensed and sanctioned by The Donald Trump Miss Universe Organization.

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