Two tie in two competitions in first night of pageant

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two ties marked the first night of competition at the 53rd annual Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg Wednesday.

Miss Heritage Ashley Wieronski, 20, of Southaven, and Miss Rankin County-Southwest Megan Miller, 19, of McComb, tied in the talent preliminary, and each received a $300 scholarship.

Miss Mid South Danielle Smith, 24, of Meridian, and Miss Meridian Mary Margaret Roark, 19, of Cleveland, tied for the swimwear preliminary, and each was awarded a $200 scholarship.

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Wieronski sang “Circle of Life” from Disney’s 1994 animated film “The Lion King.”

“It’s one of my favorites because I’m a big Disney fanatic,” she said. “It was fun to sing that song on this huge stage.” The first-year contestant, is a music theater student at the University of Alabama.

Miller, a second-year contestant, sang “Angels” by Jessica Simpson.

“I chose this because it helps me relate to my platform, and I got really emotional when I sang the song,” she said. Her platform issue is Stay Safe Behind the Wheel, a campaign to encourage everyone to make smart decisions when driving.

The McComb native is a student at Southwest Mississippi Community College where she is studying pre-medicine. She competed as Miss Southwest Mississippi Community College last year.

“I feel more confident now that I won a preliminary,” she said. “I hope the judges see something in me.”

Smith, a fourth-year contestant, had won the swimwear preliminary for her group in last year’s competition, and was the first-runner to Miss Mississippi Anna Tadlock.

“Of course, there’s a little bit of pressure,” Smith said. “We have a tough group, but I worked hard. I’m on the treadmill. I jump rope and do squats. I swim in blue jeans in the pool.”

She competed as Miss Heartland in 2009, Miss Meridian in 2008 and Miss Mississippi State University in 2007 — each year placing within the top five. She is a 2009 physical education graduate of Mississippi State University. She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in physical therapy.

Roark, a first-year contestant, is a communication student at MSU.

“My legs felt like Jell-O,” she said. “They were completely numb and the whole experience was surreal.”

She cites a daily cardio workout for her fit frame.

“I get outside as much as possible, whether it be running or walking my dog,” she said. “Being healthy helps me get through the week.”

The pageant, hosted by Miss America 1981 Susan Powell and Miss Mississippi 2006 Taryn Foshee, will continue with preliminary competition tonight and Friday night at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

A composite score from the three preliminary competitions in talent, swimwear, evening wear and questions, including on-stage and off-stage interviews, will determine the top 10 contestants, who will be announced at the beginning of the finals on Saturday night. The composite score is 30 percent of the overall score, talent is 30 percent, evening wear is 20 percent and swimwear is 20 percent.

The top 10 will compete in all categories except for private interview in a live televised showing on WLBT local Channel 3. Tadlock will crown a winner at the end of the show.

If you go

Preliminaries continue tonight and Friday night at 8. Finals will be at 8 Saturday. All events are at the Vicksburg Convention Center. Tickets are $25 for tonight, $30 for Friday and $50 for Saturday, and are available at the pageant office at 601-638-6746 or at The finals will be televised live at 8 p.m. on WLBT local Channel 3 and webcast on the pageant site.