Winner trained, planned for years for crown|[7/24/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 24, 2006

Taryn Foshee took the Miss Mississippi 2006 crown Saturday night, and then she got her just dessert – petit fours and a Diet Coke.

&#8220And today I had some lemon ice box pie,” the 21-year-old, four-time competitor for the state title said Sunday afternoon. After months of pageant preparation, Foshee said she planned to reward herself &#8220win or lose.”

Foshee was crowned by Miss Mississippi 2005 Kristian Dambrino in front of a sold-out audience at the Vicksburg Convention Center. She was competing as Miss Byram/Tri-County.

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She first competed in the Miss America preliminary in 2003, the summer following her graduation from Hillcrest Christian School.

&#8220I first became interested in Miss Mississippi after competing in the Junior Miss Pageant my junior year of high school,” she said. &#8220I didn’t win Junior Miss, but one of my judges was involved with the Miss Mississippi program and thought I might do well.”

After years of focusing on winning the title, the reality of it doesn’t feel anything like Foshee said she expected it to feel.

&#8220I always thought it would feel like a fairy tale, but I think since I had prepared so much for it, I was able to step right into the role,” she said.

And it just might be a role she was destined to play.

&#8220I really appreciate the fact that she’s come back and competed for this year after year,” said Dr. Briggs Hopson, chairman of the Miss Mississippi Pageant Board of Trustees. &#8220It shows you really want the job.”

And Foshee actually reminds Hopson of a former Miss Mississippi he met years ago.

&#8220She reminds me of Cheryl Prewitt, who was Miss America 1979. She was a Mississippi State girl who came back to compete in Miss Mississippi for four years. Maybe that’s a good sign,” Hopson said.

Foshee, a Byram native who grew up in Clinton, is a junior public relations major at Mississippi State University. She plans on attending law school after graduation. But for the next year, her full-time job will be Miss Mississippi.

&#8220I’m going to continue to work hard for Miss America and just stay on track,” she said.

Foshee will split her time between home and Vicksburg in the next few months before Miss America, which the organization announced over the weekend will be in January at a site still yet to be determined.

She will travel to Los Angeles in early September to shoot promotional videos for the national pageant and then enjoy bonding time with representatives from 12 other Southern states and the current Miss America Jennifer Berry on a cruise to the Bahamas in October.

Foshee said although she didn’t have a feeling that this was her year to win, she did feel very at peace all week during the competition.

&#8220I just knew I had done everything I could to prepare for it,” she said.

In addition to two hours of exercise a day, keeping a healthy diet, studying current events and rehearsing her talent, Foshee said one thing she made sure to do this time around was to work in some relaxation time.

&#8220I felt like last year, especially, I was too focused. I wasn’t able to breathe and give myself any grace. This year I’ve worked in some down time for myself to stay balanced,” she said.

In previous years, Foshee was named second alternate in both 2004 and 2005. This year, in addition to the $300 scholarship she received for winning Thursday’s preliminary talent competition, she will receive $15,000 in scholarships for being named Miss Mississippi.

Her mother, Kathleen Foshee, said she hopes to encourage her daughter in her preparations for the national pageant.

&#8220I just want her to do her very best and give it all she’s got,” she said.