Being Miss Maumee Valley

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pageant Press: Miss Ohio Valley contestants set to light up the stage

Miss Ohio Valley contestants set to light up the stage

By BRIANNA SADLER, Staff writer
The Herald Star

STEUBENVILLE — The contestants of the 11th-annual Miss Ohio Valley contest are set to light up the stage at Wheeling Island Gaming Center, where they will compete Saturday in the scholarship program for the title of Miss Ohio Valley.

Nine contestants will participate in the competition, which will begin with a pre-show at 6:30 p.m. The competition will begin at 7 p.m.

The local event is the first step toward the Miss America title. Miss Ohio Valley will compete for the title of Miss Ohio next summer. The winner of the competition will represent the state in the Miss America competition.

“Miss America is the largest provider of scholarships in the world,” said Lisa Poole, the longtime organizer of the local competition. “We’re really a stepping stone for the girls to go on to better things.”

This year’s contestants are:

• Tacy Kirk, 17, a student at St. Clairsville High School, whose platform is “Teens Against Destructive Decisions.”

• Brandi Herceg, 17, a student of DeVry University, whose platform is “Healthy Hearts are Happy Hearts.”

• Jesssica Rush, 18, a student at Jefferson Community College, whose platform is “Standing Up for What You Believe In.”

• Allison West, 18, a student at Bethany College whose platform is “Start to Finish — Improving the Lives at Our Nation, Young and Old.”

• Sarah Mayher, 17, a student at Indian Creek High School, whose platform is “Youth Expression through the Arts.”

• Kelsey Hitchcock, 18, a student at the University of Notre Dame, whose platform is “Music.”

• Aubrey Bodo, 17, a student at Wheeling Jesuit University, whose platform is “Ovarian Cancer Awareness: The Silent Killer.”

• Amy Colantoni, 18, a student at the University of Akron, whose platform is “Teenage Depression: Find Help Off of the Path.”

• Ashley Pesta, 21, a student of Duquesne University, whose platform is “Cancer Awareness: Promoting Health for a Better Self.”

The nine contestants will be judged based on the criteria of five sections.

The talent portion, which constitutes 35 percent of the total score, involves each contestant performing her chosen talent. The interview session will make up 30 percent of the total score and requires the contestants to go through a series of questions relating to their platforms and involvement in community service. The lifestyle and fitness portion, for 15 percent, will feature the contestants in their swim wear as they demonstrate confidence and overall health. The contestants will be escorted in their evening gowns by their fathers in the poise and appearance portion for 15 percent, and two on-stage questions relating to their platforms and current events will complete the total score for 5 percent.

Each contestant will receive a scholarship for participating from the sponsors provided to them through the program as well as scholarships for the winners of the top talent, top swimsuit, top interview, best smile, best eyes and the spirit award, which is voted on by the contestants.

“We have a lot of local support as well,” Poole explained.

Each year, local businesses donate the plaques, flowers and money as well as other items that are used as prizes for the contest. Some businesses, like E&E Bridal in Steubenville and Wintersville Trophy, have been sponsors of the program since the beginning, Poole explained. Each year, E&E Bridal donates a gown to the winner of the contest.

Other scholarships not relating to the title of Miss Ohio Valley are awarded based on a community service essay, which is judged by the management team at the Fort Steuben Mall, and on an Americanism essay, which is judged by the American Legion.

The panel of judges for the Miss Ohio Valley contest was selected by a contest committee. The panel will include professionals in the fields of music and entertainment, health and beauty and local business and community leaders.

The theme of this year’s contest is “Roll on to Vegas.” Las Vegas is the new home of the Miss America event, which has been held in Atlantic City, N.J., for 85 years.

No entry fee was required of the contestants of the Miss Ohio Valley contest, something Poole said sets this contest apart from others like it.

“It’s one scholarship program that does not take money to enter,” Poole said. “And I always tell the girls to just use what’s in their closets for the competition because there is no sense in spending money on it if they’re here to win scholarship money.”

The Miss Ohio Valley contest is open to anyone between the ages of 17 and 24.

Catherine Sengenberger, the reigning Miss Ohio Valley, will be present at the contest to pass her crown on to this year’s winner.

The contest begins with a pre-show that will showcase many local performers in true “Vegas style,” including an Elvis impersonator, show girls and other singers. The master of ceremonies will be Ross Gallabrese, the managing editor of the Herald-Star.

Poole says that her favorite part of the show is the tribute the program gives each year to different organizations. Last year’s tribute was to the veterans of World War II. This year, the tribute will be given to the American Cancer Society. Eight cancer survivors have been nominated to be special guests at the contest and will receive pins from the Miss Ohio Valley program. Hairway to Heaven also will present a check to the American Cancer Society.

“I always look forward to our tribute because that seems to really make a difference,” Poole said. “It brings awareness to things that need to be recognized in our area.”

Tickets are $15 at the door, and advance tickets are available today at the Fort Steuben Mall for $12. For information, contact Poole at (740) 632-2123 or by e-mail at


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