Scholarship pageant awards 7 titles

Lucia Plagge, Reporter

Fourteen young women and teenagers competed for several local Miss titles at the Larson Performing Arts Center at South Dakota State University Saturday, Jan. 21.

The candidates consisted of eight young women and six teenagers. They competed in two groups for one of seven possible titles: Miss SDSU, Miss Brookings, Miss Dakota Plains, Miss McCrory Gardens, Miss Jacks Outstanding Teen, Miss Brookings Outstanding Teen and Miss Dakota Plains Outstanding Teen. In addition to the honor of a title, crown and sash, the winners all receive scholarships. The title of Miss McCrory Gardens is new this year. 

This year’s Misses winner are: Miss Brookings Maleah Eschenbuam, Miss Dakota Plains Loretta Smith, Miss MCrory Gardens Breanna Bossman, and Miss SDSU Katie Milbrandt. The newly crowned teens are: Miss Jacks Outstanding Teen Madison Glover, Miss Brookings Outstanding Teen Evian Johnson, and Miss Dakota Plains Outstanding Teen Isabella Gortmaker.

The titles are awarded to those who the judges thought will do an excellent job representing their local areas, according to, Carolyn Knutson, director of the Miss SDSU/Miss Brookings Scholarship Program. Candidates showcase themselves in several areas, including on-stage questions, red carpet and talent presentations.

On stage-questions give the contenders an opportunity to prove their poise and confidence. Similarly, they modeled evening gowns for the red carpet portion. The talent presentations at Saturday’s event showcased a variety of talents, including monologues, vocals, dance and a CPR demonstration. 

Miss candidates each chose an area of the community they are passionate about improving for the social impact  portion of the event and gave a presentation about that area. For the Teens, this is replaced with a fitness demonstration.

Attending and emceeing Saturday’s competition were the 2022 reigning royalty: Miss SDSU Molly Crawford, Miss Dakota Plains Emily Deinken, Miss Jacks Outstanding Teen Jadah Aragon, Miss South Dakota Hunter Widvey and Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen Olivia Odenbrett. 

Widvey sang the national anthem to start the pageant. She said has won over $26,000 in scholarships through pageants throughout the years.

“I thought it went well,” said Jay Vanduch, Operations Manager at the Performing Arts Center. “There was a good turnout for an audience at a regional event, the talent elements were varied and the candidates worked hard.”

For the new royalty, the Miss SDSU/Miss Brookings Pageant is just the beginning. They are now eligible to compete for the title of Miss South Dakota and Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen, who are then able to continue to the national level and compete for Miss America.

The Miss SDSU/Miss Brookings event is put on with the help of volunteers and the winners’ scholarships, bouquets and sashes are all donated by organizations or alum.

Knutson said participants usually continue to stay involved. Teens come back to compete for a Miss title, Misses return to volunteer with the organization. 

“It’s kind of like a family,” she said.