SHERIDAN — Miss Michigan 2011 Elizabeth Wertenberger and Miss Outstanding Teen 2011 Marissa Cowans not only hosted the first Miss Heartland Scholarship pageant Sunday at the Central Montcalm Upper Elementary School, they also crowned the lucky young women who hope to become their successors.
The open preliminary pageant, which allows women statewide to compete for the opportunity to advance to the Miss Michigan Scholarship pageant in June, had 16 competitors for the older group and seven of the younger teens.
Morgan Lind, 23, of Grand Rapids, earned the title of Miss Heartland while Darynn Robinson of Clio was named Miss Heartland Outstanding Teen.
“We were overjoyed with the attendance,” said Barb Milhttp, assistant Miss Heartland director. “We had 30 girls register and figured we would have at least 60 people come to watch. We were kind of hoping for 100, and I am sure we exceeded that.”
Competitors who withdrew were either ill or, in one case, won a pageant on Saturday night and could no longer compete.
The contestants were divided into age categories and followed the Miss America Scholarship Pageant phases of competition. Private interviews were conducted Sunday morning with contestants being judged on lifestyle and fitness, talent, evening wear and on-stage question.
Lind modeled a turquoise blue bikini and presented a vocal solo of “As If We Never Said Goodbye.” She wore a green chiffon strapless dress with a silver bodice for her evening wear.
Her on-stage question was, “What is the biggest problem faced by those in the education system?”
“It is not a problem but more of an issue where teachers are getting by, but not truly taking control to make things happen,” Lind replied.
Cheryl Smith, executive director of the Miss Heartland pageant, was pleased with the debut of the pageant.
“We are not only happy with the numbers, but felt things went very smoothly for the number of contestants we had,” Smith said. “The school was a great setting and we were grateful to have so many wonderful volunteers who helped to pull it off.”
Robinson dressed as a school girl in a white blouse and pink plaid skirt for her talent, where she sang “Taylor the Latte Boy” and donned a light green and silver gown for her evening gown.
Her on-stage question was if she were not at the pageant, where would she be and why would she be there?
“If I were not here, most likely I would be at the Ronald McDonald house,” she said. “I go there to do charity work and try to give back. Because of my sister’s condition, I have stayed there and have been there over holidays like Christmas and Easter, and try to give back when I can.”