(c) 2017 Joell Posey

North Dakota

This was an exceptionally difficult year to narrow my selections down to the Top 15 semi-finalists for the 

Miss America 2018 Finals Night competition. It is coin toss for me going into tonight’s competition as to who this year’s judges will have scored in the top 14 of the 51 titleholders (One contestant will be chosen at large by people’s choice voting prior to the televised competition). I was able to interact with nearly every state titleholder this year and each one impressed me with their candid statements about why they support their platforms with strong advocacy and hard work to effect positive changes in the world.  

Miss Tennessee’s story of finally breaking the cycle her family’s multiple generations of drug and alcohol addiction is especially compelling. She lost the lives of her father, brother and another close relative to addiction and with heartbreakingly genuine passion behind her work she doing everything she can to make sure the opiod crisis is ended now! The contestants I interviewed are some of the most fearless, earnest well educated women I’ve met and they’re facing issues square on. They are outside the box thinkers such as Miss Louisiana, a gifted ventriloquist, who visits Children’s Hospitals providing entertainment and encouragement to sick children with her adorable puppets, Lucky and Lucy. They’re using the leadership skills they have developed through their involvement in the Miss America Scholarship Organization to evoke societal changes. Miss California says, she found stopping bullying doesn’t rely on explaining to children all the negative outcomes of bullying, such as railroading them with suicide statistics, it stops when young children are shown how to be nice. Many children aren’t treated well and have never been taught what it means to be nice and the gratifying effects it can produce in helping and being kind to others, allowing them to experience the appreciation of those people instead of bullying and experiencing the negative effects of that. The philanthropic platforms of the Miss America titleholders I’ve met have advocated for an endless range of topics from ending cyber- bullying to the enactment of legislation that would help prevent child molestation. Titleholders not only support community arts programs, they develop them. These ladies raise funds to support military families and medical research. There are literally hundreds of platform causes being served by Miss 

America titleholders across the country in addition to the dedicated work they perform on behalf of the Children’s Miracle Network, the official philanthropic partner of the Miss America Organization. It sounds cliché, but as I present this list of predictions for tonight’s top 15 finalists, I truly wish each Miss 

America competitor would hear their name called tonight! 

Miss Colorado – Meredith Winnefel is blind in her right eye and it could have been corrected if discovered at an earlier age so she advocates for early childhood vision care. Her talent is baton twirling, but I would say the highly impressive and impeccable talent performance of this beautiful contestant was a combination of dance and gymnastics as well! 

Miss Florida – Sara Zeng is very pretty and won a Lifestyle Fitness preliminary as well as possessing impressive musical performance ability on the piano. She performed strong across all categories of on- stage competition. 

Miss Georgia – Alyssa Beasley is one of my picks to be in the top 5 and to possibly take the Miss America crown. She has a lovely Audrey Hepburn quality that’s understated and spectacular at the same time. Her dance performance, evening gown and swimsuit presentations were among my favorites each night of competition! 

Miss Louisiana – Laryssa Bonacquisti is a Miss America legacy. Her mother was a former Miss New Jersey, so Atlantic City was ready to welcome this pretty, vivacious lady with open arms and two preliminary awards! Laryssa finished first for her competition group in both Life Style and Fitness and talent performance. Her incredible ventriloquism performance routine brought the house down! It wasn’t the fact she split focus between her two puppets, Lucky and Lucy, it’s that she can add herself into the mix performing three separate voices in rapid fire succession. 2018 really feels like the year Louisiana earns its first sash! 

Miss Michigan – Heather Kindrick made it to Hollywood on Season 11 of America’s Got Talent with her electro-pop violin and she brought those same wonderful skills to the Miss America stage during preliminaries. She reminds me of the film stars of the 1960s in style and performed very well throughout the week of preliminaries. 

Miss Nevada – Andrea Martinez is really stepping forward to help foster great relations between police officers and their communities. Her platform, P.A.C.T. (Police and Communities Together) is something she really works at, literally! She was in the top 15% of her Las Vegas Police Department recruitment class. During on stage competitions she performed beautifully across the board. If there was ever a time 

Miss America could make a difference as a spokeswoman and goodwill ambassador this is the time and woman! 

Miss New Jersey – Kaitlyn Schoeffel is an Atlantic City raised girl, who won a showcase showdown on the “Price is Right” which doesn’t surprise me given her dynamic personality, stage presence and intelligence. I think she could win it all in her hometown tonight! Her dance performance skills and form are fantastic. Kaitlyn is very pretty, fun and warm hearted. I would pick her as a strong contender for the crown! 

Miss North Dakota – Cara Mund has her eye on becoming the first female governor of North Dakota and 

I can imagine this confident, articulate, talented and friendly, beautiful young woman, who is a spitfire on stage, might become the first Miss America selected from North Dakota as well! 

Miss Ohio – Sarah Clapper had to find a new purpose for her life when spinal injuries ended her career in competitive gymnastics. Judging by how well she delivered her performance of “White Water Chopsticks” on the piano as well as her graceful presentations in her evening gown and swimsuit, I would say many people starting over in life can take inspiration from this beautiful woman. 

Miss Pennsylvania – Katie Schreckengast is a kick! She was a delight in the pressroom with her infectious smile and positively beaming personality. Katie delivered a saxophone solo that was a strong audience favorite during the week. Well spoke and smart, I’m sure the judges scored her high in interview and talent! 

Miss South Carolina – Suzi Roberts performed well across the board on stage and is very pretty, however, what made her standout most to me was the incredible dollar amounts she raised for the Children’s Miracle Network and her philanthropic work which earned her a top finalist and runner-up Jean Bartel “Quality of Life” award . Suzi came across as a very enthusiastic, high energy young lady who won’t wear down during an arduous and demanding Miss America philanthropic, business and social schedule! 

Miss Tennessee – Caty Davis’ childhood was a commotion of adversity beyond what most people can rise above and having worked so hard to rise above it, it makes her elegant, calm and strikingly beautiful competition performances even more amazing. She is the articulate, intelligent spokesperson Miss America could really make a difference with! Her on-stage question answer was one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard! 

Miss Texas – Margana Wood won a preliminary swimsuit award and performed well across the board. Her talent performance to a lyrical dance was emotional and pretty. Texas is has a sparkling, warm personality and her confidence and heartfelt answers in the pressroom make me think she scored well in her interview! 

Miss Utah – JessiKate Riley is statuesque and lovely with a preliminary talent award for her violin performance, I expect her to make the top 15 and more! She competed strong in all areas of on-stage competition and is very well spoken so I’m sure her judge’s interview was a great one. 

 

I didn’t add Miss California Jillian Smith or Miss Washington Nicole Renard into my prediction mix because I have a personal connection and bias towards both those ladies regarding making the top 15 finalists, but certainly believe they’re both worthy of making the list! 

 

My bubble picks are… 

Miss Alabama, Miss Delaware, Miss Kansas, Miss Kentucky, Miss Minnesota, Miss Missouri, Miss New Hampshire, and Miss Oklahoma. 

 

Congeniality – I would vote for Miss Alaska; she’s downright delightful!