tn_Miss Iowa Taylor Wiebers winning lifestyle fitness prelim award

The preliminary competitions of the 95th Anniversary Miss America pageant wrapped up Thursday evening in Atlantic City. The judge’s scores for the week of preliminaries are tabulated, however those results will not be revealed until this evening’s national broadcast of the competition finals on ABC Television. The top scoring contestants will be announced at the top of tonight’s telecast. Only the top scoring young ladies and one contestant voted on by the general public, in a “People’s Choice” type award campaign, will be continuing forward to compete for the title of Miss America 2016. The 52 young women representing 50 states and two territories (Puerto Rico and Washington DC) will be whittled down to only 15 finalists. They will then compete in Lifestyle and Fitness, Evening Gown and Talent in front of a fresh new set of celebrity judges. 30% of their preliminary week’s composite scores by the accredited Miss America judges will carry forward with each finalist into tonight’s competition. Only the top 5 scoring finalists for the crown will have a chance to answer the on-stage question selected by the VIP judging panel.

MBN Newsvideoweb was present this year to cover each night of the preliminary competitions. Based on the on-stage competition of each contestant in talent, on-stage question, evening gown and Lifestyle and Physical Fitness (We were not able to witness the judge’s interviews of each contestant which accounts for 25% of their total score) we have our own predictions for the Top Finalists, we’ve chosen 16 (In alphabetical order):



A strong contender across the board in competition she also won a scholarship award for community service. We especially like that she took a risk with her talent performance selection. McGuffin broke from a more traditional routine and chose to perform an edgy contemporary dance en pointe which she executed it with stunning precision.


She looked stunning in her custom designed white Jovani evening gown and her high energy tap dance teamed the most fun choreography (Since Mallory Hagen) with thrilling acrobatics. Morse slipped ¾ of the way through her talent performance on the slick surface of the Miss America stage and fell to one knee, but ricocheted right up with a swiftly added kick and ended her routine with vivacious energy!

MISS FLORIDA – Mary Katherine Fechtel

She was a strong and beautiful competitor in evening gown and won the preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness preliminary award. Her lyrical dance routine was excellent in form and difficulty. Fechtel displayed a maturity and sophistication throughout the week that made it hard to believe her young age of only 19 years.

MISS GEORGIA – Betty Cantrell

She is so slim in stature it was a shock to hear such a powerful operatic selection as “Madame Butterfly’s performance and it was well deserved! Another beautiful and warmly engaging contestant, Betty competed strongly across the board in all areas of competition. We were also told by a couple parents how popular Miss Georgia was with the other girls.

MISS IDAHO – Kalie Wright

She displayed a different rhythm and easy going style of grace throughout the entire week that warmed our hearts. She did an admirable job with her vocal performance in a field of incredible competitors and could not have looked more beautiful in her swimsuit and evening gown! How can you not love her platform which advocates supporting our military veterans and their families? We especially liked Wright’s on-stage question answer where she told the audience it’s easy to support our military servicemen and women, just start by saying “thank you”.

MISS IOWA – Taylor Wiebers

She was the only contestant to win two preliminary awards. First, she wowed us with her Broadway style vocal performance, hitting difficult notes throughout her entire performance and executing an amazing range as well. Second, she dropped 25 pounds after winning her local title on the way to winning her Miss America preliminary in Lifestyle and Physical Fitness. Wiebers credited working out 5 times a week sometimes twice daily and restructuring her entire diet to achieve the win! We think that type of determination along with her Kelly Ripa looks and personality could take her a long way into the future!

MISS LOUISANA – April Nelson

Not only did she wow the audience in her swimsuit and evening gown competitions, the striking Nelson captured the preliminary talent award for her impressive vocal performance of “Climb Every Mountain” from the “Sound of Music”. She said she fell in love with the song at the age of 7 and you could see her joy in performing it on the Miss America stage! Her enthusiastic and positive response and thorough knowledge of her platform in answering her on-stage question made us realize she’s the real deal!


Probably one of the most naturally beautiful young women we’ve seen, Fuller, performed admirably across the board in competitions and gave an exceptionally eloquent and heartfelt answer to her on-stage question as well as performing a clean and confident jazz dance number. Fuller, displayed a sophisticated yet, approachable manner that left us to reason she did very well in her closed doors interview.


She performed her violin instrumental talent number with such a passion and power we can’t imagine she was far behind the talent preliminary award winner for her night. In addition to her incredible instrumental skills we think Roberts was a knockout in her swimsuit and evening gown. Even though she didn’t score a preliminary win, we think she’s the complete Miss America package!

MISS NEW JERSEY – Lindsey Giannini

New Jersey performed and one would reason, “Well, she’s from the Miss America host state of New Jersey so that’s what you would expect from the audience!” Anybody, who thinks the audience appreciation was based on being the hometown favorite would be wrong in their assumption. We found ourselves cheering at the end of each competition because the very pretty, Giannini, landed performed every competition with a warmth, skill and vigor that should deservedly boost her into the top 15 finalists.

MISS OREGON – Ali Wallace

There wasn’t a great deal of hoopla surrounding Wallace during this week’s preliminary competitions. She didn’t win an award and flew beneath our radar until the last night of preliminaries when she woke us up by performing a breathtaking, nearly flawless, lyrical dance. We quickly checked our notes and saw that she finished in the top 5 of our picks every night of competition. We were even more amazed when considering she did all of this after her miraculous rehabilitation to overcome a traumatic brain injury!

MISS PUERTO RICO – Destiny Noell Velez

We think it might be “Destiny” that the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico will be presented with a Miss America crown tonight. Miss Puerto Rico has displayed a dynamic personality throughout the week and caught our eye with her skilled and playful drum performance of “Wipe-Out”. She struck the perfect pose with her great swimsuit body in the Lifestyle and Physical Fitness competition and showcased her evening gown with uncommon pizzazz! Will the Miss America crown make history tonight? We think it very well could!


An incredibly beautiful young woman, Dial, graced the stage in one of the week’s prettiest dresses during evening gown competition. Her sheer white lace appliqué gown drew breaths as she presented it on Tuesday night. Her onstage question answer was also very impressive. Dial displayed a great sense of humor in the pressroom after winning her preliminary award in Lifestyle and Physical Fitness by joking that it was murder to look great in a swimsuit when her grandparents own a terrific Soul Food restaurant! We think the judges probably enjoyed her articulate manner of speaking along with her fun personality during the closed door interviews.

MISS TENNESSEE – Hannah Robison

She finished in our top three contestants across the board. She came across very sweet, fun and engaging during every phase of competition, not to mention she looked fantastic. Miss Tennessee’s piano performance was great and her on-stage question answer was one of the best during the week. It was articulate, positive and loaded with facts showing a command of knowledge regarding her platform. She would make an excellent Miss America ambassador.

MISS UTAH – Krissia Beatty

She was striking in her swimsuit presentation, we thought she might win the preliminary in that category and presented very well in her evening gown. Beatty didn’t look like anyone else in the pageant, a very unique stand-out and she delivered a solid answer for her on-stage question. She was lovely in her contemporary piano performance and we believe she scored well with the judges in interview due to her confident, articulate and poised nature.

MISS VERMONT – Alayna Westcom

There could hardly be a better representative for STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math than Westcom. We think her science based theatrical monologue was creatively written (Not an easy feat) with a thoroughly enjoyable surprise ending! She would be a great STEM ambassador for the Miss America Program. We can already see the delight of classroom students and the pediatric patients of the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and clinics as she presents her talent performance. She was articulate, intelligent and lovely throughout all her competitions. We bet the judges loved her.

THOSE ON THE BUBBLE: Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, West Virginia (Though we would be completely happy to see any of the lovely 52 contestants in the top 15 Finalists)

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By Joell Grager Posey