The second round of Miss Kansas Pageant preliminaries began with a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner sung by local Pratt men's group, Joyful Noise, on Thursday, June 8 in Pratt, Kansas, and it just got better from there.
Top-notch entertainment, well-thought-out interview answers followed by colorful swim wear, interesting talent numbers and exquisite evening wear culminated in two more contestants rising to the top of the judges' lists. Kappa group members Krystian Fish, Miss Heart of the Midwest and Annika Wooton, Miss Kingman County took home the silver trays for Lifestyle and Fitness (swim wear) and Best Talent, respectively.
Striding confidently across the stage to the beat of "I Can Make Your Hands Clap" was Kystian Fish, Miss Heart of the Midwest. Her vibrant blue two-piece swim wear caught the judges attention and her ability to move gracefully in high heels propelled her to the top of the chart in the Life and Fitness competition.
"People should not be defined by the disability or inabilities," said Fish, whose platform issue is Be Unstoppable: Disability, not Definition.
She has worked with individuals with disabilities since 2007 and is passionate about making sure they have the best quality of life possible. The Wichita native is a psychology student at Wichita State University, slated to graduate in 2018.
Rousing dance numbers, like tap-dancing from Jordan Howard Miss Southwest and Bailey Stattelman Miss Topeka, plus a moving emotional tribute to her mother by Miranda Flemming Miss Pratt County kept the audience on the edge of their seats. When the final talent number took the stage, red-haired Annika Wooton Miss Kingman County, in a brilliant green gown, had spectators in the palm of her hand with a full-bodied vocal "This is the Moment."
It was a special moment for several competitors throughout the evening, especially Cari Anne Cashon Miss Augusta, as scholarship awards were announced. Cashon took home five of the ten achievement awards, plus second in the Quality of Life Scholarship category for excellence in community service, for a total of more than $4,000 in scholarships. Participation achievement award winners were Kayla Hawkins Miss Butler County and Cassie Lohmeyer Miss Cowley County, level 3; Cashon Miss Augusta, level 2; Katelyn Unruh Miss Cowboy Capital and Greeshma Reddy Miss Wichita Asian Festival, level 1.
Cashon was the winner of the Salute Show Book Highest Number of Pages Sold Award and was named Top Scholarship for a contestant with the highest GPA attending a Kansas college. Cashon as Miss Augusta won the Miss American Community Service Award and the Esther Scholarship Award for dealing with adversity and bringing help to those who suffer. Casino’s platform is Brain Power: Awareness and Advocacy for Brain Injury.
Other money awards went to Mercedes Seger Miss Ulysses, who earned an Educational Degree Scholarship; Callie Lane Miss Golden Belt got a Miss America Academic Award and Greeshma Reddy was the state's highest fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network and brought the most 2017 Sunflower Princess recruits to the event. Krystian Fish Miss Heart of the Midwest was named the first place Quality of Life Scholarship for excellence in community service.
The Miss Kansas contestants get a bit of a break on Friday as they prepare to ride in the Pratt Hometown Miss Kansas Parade at 6 p.m. Finals for the 2017 Miss Kansas Pageant take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 in the Dennis Lesh Arena at Pratt Community College.