MUSKEGON — After competing twice previously, Alisha Gatchel knows that each scholarship pageant she participates in is a life-changing experience.
It is the third time, however, that Gatchel, 16, will face the biggest change as she was crowned Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen on Wednesday evening at the Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship pageant at the Frauenthaul Center for the Performing Arts in Muskegon.
Gatchel, as Miss Spirit of the State, beat out 26 other teens from across the state to win the crown, title, a $1,000 scholarship and entry fee to the Miss America Outstanding Teen Pageant in Florida in July, along with her wardrobe for appearances and competition being provided.
Gatchel, the daughter of Carl and Holly Gatchel, donned a royal blue gown for the talent phase of the competition. Her piano/vocal performance of her original composition of “Stronger Than This” helped her to win the preliminary talent competition on Tuesday evening. Other rounds include private interview, evening wear, on stage question and physical fitness.
Wednesday evening’s final round began by naming the Top 10, which included Gatchel and her classmate, Miss Heartland Brianna Van Houten of Greenville.
Gatchel was crowned Miss Spirit of the State in June 2013. She previously competed as Miss Heartland, Van Houten’s current title, and also competed as an at-large contest, following a role as Young Miss Danish Festival 2010.
Van Houten, the daughter of Joel and Linda Van Houten, placed Young Miss First Runner-up in 2010, Young Miss Danish Festival 2011, competed twice as an at-large contestant prior to winning her Miss Heartland 2014 title.
All contestants began rehearsals on Sunday, and participated in orientation, a cruise on the Port City Princess, interviews, more rehearsals, and after the crowning, an Afterglow.
Gatchel will represent the state throughout the year in Michigan, and then also in Florida in July during the Miss Outstanding Teen representative.
The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant starts today and continues Friday with preliminary rounds. The winner will be crowned Saturday night. Greenville residents Taylor Bretzke and Emily Smith are among the contestants.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.