Miss Rugby, County Fair, Geographic Center crowned
Young women, teens and 10 little princesses took the stage at Rugby High School’s Tilman Hovland Auditorium Saturday to compete for Miss Rugby, Miss Geographic Center and several other titles.
Three women competed for Miss Rugby, Miss Geographic Center and Miss Pierce County Fair, while five teens competed for Rugby’s Outstanding Teen, Miss Geographic Center Outstanding Teen and Pierce County Fair’s Outstanding Teen.
The evening began as 2019’s North Dakota Outstanding Teen Llanora Peterson sang the National Anthem. Miss North Dakota, Haley Wolfe, joined her as she sang “My Inferno” and introduced local pageant judges Jessalyn Ostrem, Jordan Backstrom, Gwen Hauff, Laurie Odden and James Childress.
Wolfe introduced each candidate and served as emcee. Wolfe’s sister, Sabrina, is Miss Rugby 2019. Because Sabrina Wolfe was unable to attend Saturday’s pageant, Kaylee Moss, Miss Geographic Center 2019 filled her role.
Wolfe introduced the Princess candidates first. The young contestants showcased talents such as tumbling, dance and piano, occasionally pausing to smile and wave before scampering offstage. One young tumbler, Addison Pringle of Surrey, is a veteran of performing routines before crowds already at nine years old. Wolfe noted Pringle participates in tumbling events nationally.
Interview time with Wolfe gave the princesses more opportunities to show their smiles, although one five-year-old planted her feet near the back curtain, shaking her head and looking down when offered a chance to chat.
Outstanding Teen and Miss contestants followed, entertaining the audience with tap dancing and music. Ryli Kuhnhenn of Rugby played a piano solo titled “Time Twister” for her teen talent selection, and family and friends cheered her on.
Each teen and young woman shared her platform, or personal cause with the judges, describing what she was doing to advance it and raise awareness.
Because the Miss Rugby pageant program is affiliated with the Miss America organization, the swimsuit competition was replaced with a fitness and lifestyle section, where contestants jogged across the stage and did mini workout routines in exercise wear.
Audience members had a chance to meet with Miss North Dakota and other past pageant winners during an intermission. They snacked on baked goods, drank lemonade and filled out paper ballots with the names of their favorite princesses in the “People’s Choice” election.
When the stage lights went up again, contestants modeled sparkling ball gowns in rich jewel tones and party dresses.
As auditors tabulated the judges’ votes, Wolfe and Kaylee Moss, Miss Rugby Outstanding Teen of 2019 led the princesses in a freestyle dance to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”. The princesses smiled, giggled and moved to the music with no sign of bashfulness in anyone.
Rugby’s Savanna Dockter, whose parents are Brandon and Jennifer Dockter, stepped forward in her royal blue party dress to claim the “People’s Choice” title. The Outstanding Teen and Miss Rugby participants walked onstage to await the judges’ decision for their contest.
Autumn Fisher took the Miss Rugby Outstanding Teen 2020 title, while Gabrielle Tweeten was named Miss Geographic Center Outstanding Teen 2020. Tayler Christianson was named Miss Pierce County Fair’s Outstanding Teen.
The Miss Rugby 2020 title went to Madison Truscinski, whose platform was “Mentorship Mindset: Reimagining each generation”.
“I hope that I can bring together business professionals and students throughout the year,” Truscinski told the Tribune after the contest. “I’m really excited because I know that Rugby is the Geographic Center of North America. And that’s one thing that this community has to offer, and it’s a really good aspect of our community, too.”
Courtney Hagen took the Miss Geographic Center 2020 title, and Katherine Ussery was named Miss Pierce County Fair.
“I’m very excited about (winning Miss Geographic Center),” Hagen said. “Being from Fargo, this is my first time out here. Honestly, I’m enchanted by this town. Everyone’s so nice and kind. It’s great.” Hagen named her platform for the contest, “It’s OK not to be OK; Ending the Stigma Around Mental Health”.
Fisher, whose platform centered on helping homeless pets, echoed Miss Rugby’s excitement.
“It’s really amazing to be representing a city where it’s the Geographic Center (of North America). It’s really an amazing town. I have friends here, and really good people live here,” Fisher said.
Fisher encouraged other teens and young women to check out the Miss North Dakota program. “I just started this year. I felt like, ‘oh, pageants are just looking pretty in a ball gown’. But, it’s really more about what’s in the inside,” she added. “It’s more than a pageant. It’s scholarships you can get money to pay for college.”
Miss Rugby, Geographic Center, Outstanding Teen and other titleholders will join the Rugby Princesses in Williston next June for the Miss North Dakota Pageant.
Pageant Director Karisa Maus said, “This is my first year (directing the pageant). It was great. Those girls put on a great show and the princesses, with eight of them doing talent, when they move up to the Teen and Miss competitions, boy, there’s going to be a tough crowd there.”
Maus has one daughter, Adella, who participates in the princess program and Maus said her two-year-old daughter “will probably join the program when she’s old enough as well.”
Maus encouraged Rugby girls to check out the program as well.
“Talk to one of the local girls who has a title, be it a princess or a teen and ask them what they think about it and just think about the scholarship money that you could win to pay off college,” Maus said. “Because that is a big weight off your shoulders, to pay off that college.”
More information on the Miss Rugby program is available on the Miss Rugby Scholarship Organization’s Facebook page, or via email at email@example.com.
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