Jalin Wood takes crown on 2nd try

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 28, 2004

Miss Metro Jackson Jalin Wood is crowned Miss Mississippi 2004 by outgoing Miss Mississippi Allison Kellogg at the Vicksburg Convention Center Saturday night.(Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[6/27/04]Miss Metro Jackson Jalin Wood, competing for the second time in the state pageant, took the Miss Mississippi 2004 crown Saturday night and will represent the state in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City in September.

“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world,” said the 23-year-old Wood who performed her rendition of the Spanish classic “Cumana” on the piano.

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“I feel like everyone in the audience could see my heart pounding out of my chest when they announced my name,” she said, adding that the first thing she wants to do is eat a double dip of pralines and cream ice cream from Baskin-Robbins.

The first runner-up in Saturday night’s crowning, the culmination of a frenzied week of citywide activities and three days of preliminary competitions, was Miss Magnolia Kristian Dambrino who received a $10,000 scholarship,

The second runner-up was Miss Dixieland Taryn Foshee, who received a $6,000 scholarship; third was Miss Byram Tri-County Angela Allen, who received a $5,000 scholarship; and fourth was Miss Vicksburg Melanie Sanders, who received a $3,500 scholarship.

It was Sanders’ fourth time to compete for the state title in her hometown and the third time on the stage as Miss Vicksburg. In 2000, she competed as Miss Southern Magnolia, when she finished as second runner-up. Like this year, she was fourth in 1999.

“This was really my best year ever. I had more fun in this year’s pageant than any other year, but I’m glad it’s over,” she said.

An obvious favorite among the contestants, Sanders received hug after hug after the show Saturday night.

Wood, a graduate of Mississippi College who plans to enter medical school in 2005, said she has big hopes for the national pageant and, when prompted by a question, said she agrees “Mississippi needs another Miss America” to add to the 1958, 1959, 1979 and 1985 title holders.

Wood is a veteran of pageants. She was fourth runner-up in Miss Mississippi last year as Miss Dixie, and she served as Mississippi’s Miss Hospitality 2001.

She said the week in Vicksburg gave her a valuable lesson in friendship from borrowing hair spray backstage to helping zip and safety pin other contestants’ gowns.

“It takes a lot of discipline to be in this pageant and a lot of hard work. Everyone here has been great this week,” she said.

Miss Mississippi 2003 Allison Kellogg said she feels confident in handing over the crown to Wood.

“I’ve known Jalin since 1998 when we competed together in Mississippi’s Junior Miss. I thinks she’s a beautiful person inside and out, and she definitely deserves this,” said Kellogg.

Wood’s win in her second attempt contrasted with winners for the past three years. Kellogg, who was Miss Madison County in 2003, was competing for her third time, as was Miss West Central Jennifer Adcock in 2002. In 2001, Miss Deep South Becky Pruett took the crown on her fourth try.

“In recent years, most winners are third- and fourth-time contestants,” said Pat Hopson, the executive producer, who has been working with the pageant for 33 years and whose daughter, Karen, was crowned Miss Mississippi in 1981. “I think that’s because they’re gaining scholarships and growing into more confident people.”

Karen Hopson was the last Miss Vicksburg to take the state title.

The Vicksburg Convention Center, which holds 1,700 people, was sold out for Saturday night’s show, and few seats were empty for the three preliminary competitions Wednesday through Friday.

Wood will receive $15,000 in scholarships for winning Miss Mississippi, in addition to the $1,000 Mississippi Chiropractic Posture Scholarship for being the overall swimsuit winner and the $300 scholarship for winning the swimsuit preliminary Thursday.

To determine the winner in the pageant, contestants were judged 40 percent on personal interviews with the judges, 30 percent on talent and 10 percent each on swimsuit, evening wear and on-stage questions.

During the next few weeks, Wood will stay in Vicksburg to prepare for the national pageant, in which she’ll compete against 51 others.

The other five in this year’s Top 10, who were announced at the beginning of Saturday night’s televised show, were Miss Northeast Mississippi Community College Tara Tutor, Miss University April Lancaster, Miss Deep South Kim Blackwell, Miss Alcorn County Jessica Sparks and Miss Northridge Jana Haynes. Each will receive a $2,000 scholarship.