Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pageant Press: Miss Ohio: Wednesday's prelims begin whittling process

Miss Ohio: Wednesday's prelims begin whittling process
By Lou Whitmire/Mansfield News Journal

June 17, 2009

MANSFIELD — Two veteran contestants from Mercer County — Miss Clayland Erica Gelhaus and Miss Northwestern Heather Waterman — captured the first round of preliminaries Wednesday night in the 2009 Miss Ohio Scholarship Program at the RenaissanceTheatre.

Making her third trip to the Miss Ohio stage, Gelhaus, 21, of St. Henry, won the talent award, garnering a $700 scholarship.

An excited Gelhaus, who will be a senior this fall at Otterbein College, said winning talent Wednesday night was an honor. Her major is vocal performance.

Before the show, Gelhaus could be heard warming up her vocal chords in the theater parking lot.

Her goal is to become a professional opera singer.

Making her second trip to Miss Ohio, Waterman, 22, won the swimsuit award in a two-piece yellow number, winning a $400 scholarship.

The Celina resident said she was excited to win the night’s prelim swimsuit competition.

“It’s really exciting for me. I worked really hard at keeping up my physical fitness. It’s really about a balance of eating healthy and working out,” said Waterman, who added that she’s training to run a marathon.

Both women said returning to Miss Ohio makes them feel at ease.

“You get to know a lot of the girls. It’s almost like coming home,” Gelhaus said.

Waterman said she agrees. “Coming back this year I feel like I have a little bit better idea what’s going on,” she said.

A pageant tradition continued Wednesday as the Mansfield Noon Optimist Club became an inductee into the Miss Ohio Hall of Fame. Optimists brought 20 children from Friendly House to the show. Pageant volunteer, scholarship donor and vocal coach Jim Estep also was inducted, having served with the program 51 years.

During Wednesday night's show, themed “Timeless,” featured entertainers danced, sang and included the audience in a doo-wop musical number.

A segment of the evening's entertainment included Miss Ohio Karissa Martin and contestants, wearing black lace and leather, dancing to “Disturbia” by Rihanna.

Preliminaries continue at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Friday and the next Miss Ohio will be crowned at 8 p.m. Saturday night. This show will be televised on Time Warner's digital cable channel 119 by the Ohio News Network.

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