Friday, June 19, 2009

Pageant Press: Prelim winners share pageant directors

Prelim winners share pageant directors
By Lou Whitmire

MANSFIELD -- Miss Fallen Timbers Becky Minger captured the swimsuit award during Thursday night's second round of Miss Ohio preliminaries, saying she worked out three times a week at a fitness center with her father, whom she called her motivator.

"I'm trying to say the fourth time is the charm," said Minger, 21, of Sylvania, who is making her fourth trip to the Miss Ohio stage.

Minger, who aspires to be a political image consultant, is studying interpersonal communication and political science at Bowling Green State University.

Making her second trip to the Renaissance Theatre, Miss Maumee Valley Shannon O'Neill, 20, of Lima, wowed the judges with her rendition of "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from the Broadway musical "Sunset Boulevard." Having taken voice lessons since sixth grade, O'Neill said winning a preliminary talent honor was rewarding.

"My hard work paid off," she said.

A junior at the Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, O'Neill is majoring in communication and media studies, hoping for a career in broadcast journalism.

Both women said they are very lucky; they share the same pageant directors -- Eric and Linda Wagener, who run three preliminary pageants, including Miss All-American City.

John P. Kunkel III, the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program's producer of 25 years, was honored Thursday night with special video appearances from friends including former contestant and Cleveland news anchor Stephanie Schaefer. Columbus newsman Cabot Rea, a longtime emcee at Miss Ohio, played the guitar for Kunkel.

Special guests included Shelby native and country singer Jeff Tackett who performed a country hit. His wife, former Miss Ohio 1988 Sarah Ann (Evans) Tackett, sang a gospel number, saying she truly was blessed to meet Kunkel 21 years ago.

As is the case each year, awards were given to special people.

Jerry Deitsch and Melissa Hoying, directors of the Miss Lake Festival, were volunteers of the year.

Miss North East Ohio Directors Ken and Anne Hablitzel were inducted into the Miss Ohio Hall of Fame along with the late Noreen Young, a beloved board member and avid collector of Miss Ohio memorabilia.

Preliminaries continue today at 7:30 p.m. The next Miss Ohio will be crowned at 8 p.m. Saturday, live on the Ohio News Network (Channel 362, Time Warner, Mansfield).

Call the Miss Ohio office at 419-522-6677 for tickets.

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