Two Olathe women won the Miss Kansas USA and Miss Kansas Teen USA titles Sunday night at the Lied Center at Kansas University.
Courtney Courter, 23, competed as Miss Metro Kansas City USA and won the Miss Kansas USA 2009 competition. Seventeen-year-old Alexis Rewalt, Miss South Johnson County Teen USA, won the teen pageant. About 500 people were in attendance.
“It’s the best Christmas present ever,” Courter said. A University of Missouri graduate, she said that she’s competed in small pageants in the past. Winning a pageant of this size, she said, was surreal.
“It’s a great jumping-off point. I just graduated from college, so I’m not tied down with anything,” she said. “I’m free to work as Miss Kansas.”
Rewalt, who attends St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, has competed in two National American Miss pageants before. She’s been gearing up for this pageant for a long time, she said.
“I’ve been working toward this since I was 11 years old,” she said. “My family and I had spent so many hours preparing.”
She said that winning this pageant would help her pursue her goal of working with special-needs children. She started a program to help special-needs kids through her cheerleading program and wants to continue working in the field.
Two Lawrence women were top 12 finalists in the Miss Kansas USA competition. Ashley Blanchat competed as Miss Rock Chalk USA and Trinity Wright competed as Miss South Lawrence USA. Blanchat was third runner-up in the pageant, and Wright won the swimsuit award.
Wright’s family and coaches supported her with whoops and hollers from the crowd. Trudy Wright, Trinity’s mother, said that watching her daughter on stage was both exciting and nerve-racking.
“There’s not a thing we can do out here,” she said. “That’s why we’re cheering and yelling.”
Trudy Wright was waving signs, glow sticks and a flashing red light in support.
“It’s fun,” she said. “A lot of good things can happen with this event.”
Vanbros and Associates Inc. organized the pageant. Janet Parkes, Vanbros operations coordinator, said the night was a bittersweet one for contestants.
“All of them have worked really hard,” she said. “Those who don’t make the top 12 are a little disappointed. It takes a lot of self-discipline for the girls to get this far.”
The Miss Kansas Teen USA and Miss Kansas USA winners both received scholarships worth $57,600 to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. All contestants received scholarship funds to the university.
Courter and Rewalt will advance to the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants. The 2009 Miss USA pageant will be held April 19 at Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and will be broadcast on NBC. The 2009 Miss Teen USA pageant location and date have not yet been announced.