Quite a crowd gathered at Triton Performing Arts Center at Triton Jr.-Sr. High School on Saturday, Oct. 18, for the annual Triton Junior Miss pageant.
It was the 51st competition to select the Distinguished Young Woman of Triton. Kevin Boyer, master of ceremonies for the evening, took to the microphone to kick off the super hero-themed event.
After a brief introduction, the house lights dimmed, the “Flash Gordon” theme song began playing and the seven contestants and last year’s Junior Miss, Kayleigh Criag – all clad in super hero garb – began racing around the auditorium, capturing villains and dragging them to the stage.
The ladies bound their captives and led them back stage. Again, Commissioner Boyer took to the podium. “I think we’ve got a unique and appropriate theme this year,” Boyer said. “Each one of these contestants is a hero in her own right.”
The contestants returned to the stage wearing formal gowns and deftly executing a choreographed routine. Then on to the “self expression” portion of the contest. Each girl was asked what kind of superhero she would be and why.
Contestant number one, Kayla Marie Burkett, said she would be Ms. Positive so she could “make people see that there’s positive in every situation.” Makayla Marie Musilli, contestant number two, said, “I would be called The Healer and eliminate all sickness and disease in the world.”
Shelby Ranae Wagoner, contestant number three, said she would be Cloak Woman so that she could disguise all evil with good. Contestant number four, Arianna Hope Nelson, said she would be The Provider and provide food to the underprivileged.
Kylie Michele Mason, contestant number five, said “I would be Minute Woman,” and she would manipulate time to make the good times last longer and the bad times pass quickly. Contestant number six, Lillie Nicole Berger, said, “I would be Enviro Girl, and my superpower would be to influence everybody to be more environmental.” Rachel Chickering, contestant number seven, said, “I would be the Bully Buster.”
The program moved into the talent contest. Each participant prepared a brief entertainment routine.
Wagoner sang “A Thousand Years.” Mason performed a basketball handling routine. Burkett sang “If I Could Make A Living.” Musilli danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Berger performed a song with a cup providing percussive accompaniment. Nelson signed to “Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone.” And Chickering sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” After each contestant performed, Craig provided a special flag routine to “Turn All the Lights Off.”
Following the entertainment, the contestants donned athletic wear and participated in a choreographed fitness routine.
After a brief intermission, six young men competed in the Triton Junior Mister contest. Three harrowing tests of skill and poise whittled down the contestants until a champion remained.
The 2015 Triton Junior Mister was awarded to a burly, charismatic young man, clad in t-shirt and cargo shorts, known simply as “Nate.” He graciously accepted a gold medal, a $100 scholarship and his name will be added to a trophy alongside past Junior Mister winners.
It was nearly time to crown the 2015 Triton Junior, but before all the pomp and circumstance, Craig took to the podium to say a few words about her experience as Triton Junior Miss the previous year.
“I’ve discovered so much about myself,” Craig said, now a freshman at Indiana University in South Bend. “Everybody was so friendly. I gained 22 new sisters.”
After winning last year, Craig traveled to Kokomo to compete in Indiana’s Distinguished Young Women competition. The 2015 winner will make the same journey for this year’s competition, held on Feb. 19, 20 and 21.
Craig offered some final words of encouragement to this year’s contestants: “To the ladies backstage, may the odds be ever in your favor.” Before awards were presented, Boyer took a moment to honor three women who were integral in organizing the competition.
Tammy Sauer, president of the Triton Junior Miss Board of Directors, Kristen Hoffer, vice president of Triton Junior Miss Board of Directors, and Whitney Ambrose, secretary of Triton Junior Miss Board of Directors, were brought to the stage. The contestants gave them each a bouquet of flowers to thank them for all the support and efforts. Then it was time for the grand finale.
First, a few special awards were presented. Musilli won Ticket Sales, Self Expression and Fitness. Burkett was the Spirit of Junior Miss winner. Wagoner won the poster board contest. Chickering won for Talent.
The Third Runner-Up was Rachael Chickering. Second Runner-Up went to Arianna Nelson, and First Runner-Up was awarded to Makayla Musilli.
Thanks to local sposors, a total of $3,700 in scholarships will be awarded to each contestant. And the winner of the 2015 Triton Junior Miss competition went to – drum roll please – contestant number five, Kylie Mason.