Rachel Saunders did everything right as Miss Kansas USA, even though it didn't earn her the title of Miss USA, a close friend of the Tonganoxie woman said.
"These kinds of things are just a roll of the dice, and you just never know what's going to happen," said Vickie Cackler, a former Tonganoxie teacher who encouraged Saunders to enter the pageant.
Cackler was among a large contingent of friends and relatives who made the trip to Baltimore for the pageant and to give Saunders moral support.
The pageant ended Monday night with Miss North Carolina USA, Chelsea Cooley, wearing the Miss USA crown. The first runner-up was Miss California USA, Brittany Hogan.
Saunders, 21, also of Tonganoxie, didn't make the final 15 contestants, but Cackler thinks she must have been close.
"Rachel did everything she could possibly do to prepare herself for this," said Cackler, who owns a bridal shop where Saunders works. "You have a celebrity panel of judges and 51 gorgeous girls, and you just never know what the determining factor was. She was stunning. Just absolutely stunning."
Cackler's own daughter, Danielle Boatright, was Miss Kansas USA in 1996 and was the first runner-up to Miss USA.
Cackler said she had a chance to talk to Saunders after the pageant.
"Rachel's a very strong girl; she was just fine," Cackler said. "She suffered from a little exhaustion because she's been going nonstop."