Saturday night was the final competition for the Miss South Carolina Pageant at the nearly sold-out Township Auditorium in Columbia. Eighty-eight teens and young women had competed all week in preliminaries and now it was time to see who would wear the crown.
The evening opened with a welcome from the event’s master of ceremonies, Jane Jenkins Herlong, a former Miss South Carolina, and the National Anthem sung by Crystal Garrett, Miss South Carolina 2007.
The narrowing begins…
Moments later, it was time to announce the top 16 finalists in both the Miss and Teen divisions. Fifteen girls scoring the highest combined scores in the week’s competitions plus one young woman, who was awarded the People’s Choice Award through online voting, would advance to the next round of competition.
Drum roll please…
And the top 16 finalists for the teen division are . . . Miss Hartsville, Miss Blue Ridge Foothills . . . and the names continued on and on. The Greer fans supporting Sydney Sill, Miss Greater Greer Teen, had to wait until near the end. Sill’s was the 15th name called.
Next came the top 16 in the Miss division . . . Miss Columbia, Miss Clemson, and the long list of names continued, once again keeping Greer supporters in suspense. Miss Greater Greer, Lauren Cabaniss, was the 15th contestant called out for the top 16.
Both Greer queens were moving on to the next round of competition.
The next phase was physical fitness for the Teen contestants and physical fitness through swimsuit for the Miss Contestants.
What are the odds?
Next came another nail-biting round of elimination. It was time to announce the top 10 girls who would be moving on to the final phase of competition. But wait -- there was a tie! What are the chances that this would happen –- twice in the same competition! The top 10 would now be the top 11 in both the Teen and Miss division.
Both Greer queens placed in the top 11 and advanced to the next round of competition, which included evening gown, talent and an onstage question.
Sill, Greer’s teen queen, wore a blue beaded mermaid style gown, winning her the award and scholarship money for best overall evening gown. She performed a tap routine to “Baby I’m a Star.” For her onstage question, Sill was asked to talk about her platform,"If you believe it you can achieve it." Sill said she tells young girls to focus on their goal or dream, and not obstacles that may get in their way.
Cabaniss, Greer’s Miss Queen, wore a form-fitting blue beaded gown. For talent she danced to “xyz” with many leaps and turns, bringing the crowd to a roar in support of her performance.
Cabaniss said she approached this pageant with a different perspective than in the years past. Her mission was still to win the title, but this year she had a newfound purpose and desire. Win or lose, she said she wants be a light to other girls and everyone that she meets.
And then there were two…
Both groups of the top 11 were narrowed to the top 5, and again both Greer queens would go on to compete for Miss South Carolina. Only one category of completion remained -- a final onstage question. The onstage question, added with the scores from the phases of competition earlier in the evening, would determine who would take home the crown.
Who would become the next Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Outstanding Teen? The announcement started with the teen division. First came a Miss Congeniality winner, fourth runner-up, third runner-up, second runner-up, and then were only two remaining: Miss Greater Greer Teen Sydney Sill and Miss Greater Mauldin Teen Rachel Wyatt. The girls held hands in anticipation for the announcement. “And the first runner up . . . Sydney Sill, Miss Greater Greer Teen.”
The crown of Miss South Carolina Outstanding Teen went to Miss Greater Mauldin. When crowned, Wyatt dropped to one knee on stage in the pose traditionally referred to as “Tebowing,” bringing the crowd cheers from the crowd. Wyatt, 17, will compete at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition next month in Orlando.
Now for the Miss division. The fourth runner-up was announced, the third, then the second runner-up, and once again, a Greer queen was in the final two for the crown. Either Miss Greater Greer, Lauren Cabaniss, or Miss Laurens County, Ali Rogers, would wear the crown of Miss South Carolina. “And the first runner-up is . . . Miss Greater Greer, Lauren Cabaniss.” Miss Laurens won the crown and title of Miss South Carolina 2012. The title included a $20,000 scholarship and the keys to a Jeep provided by a local dealership in Columbia. Rogers, a 20-year-old student at Clemson, had been a state titleholder in 2009 when she named Miss South Carolina Outstanding Teen. Rogers will represent South Carolina next January at the Miss America 2013 pageant in Las Vegas.
Congratulations to Rachel Wyatt and Ali Rogers on their wins. They will serve and represent the state well. Congratulations also to both of our Greer queens, Lauren and Sydney, on their first runner-up selections. It is an honor well deserved, and both girls, their families, and our community should be proud of them.
The Upstate fared well at this year’s competition, with more than 17 girls as finalists.