It feels like I was just doing this for Miss America 2017 and yet, here we are, prelims starting TOMORROW! Savvy’s year is coming to a close, and one young woman is about to embark on a pretty incredible journey – and I’m THIS EXCITED to be in on all of the action this year in Atlantic City.
Let’s be upfront here real quick – as much as we try, no one can accurately predict who is going to make that first cut all the way down to who will win. It’s like trying to create a perfect NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament – doesn’t happen. (Sidenote: a couple years ago I missed only a couple of the first round picks and was in the top .004% of ALL 11+ million brackets on ESPN. My bracket eventually busted into oblivion, but it was fun for awhile 🙂 #sportsbrag
So with that being said, the following post needs a few disclaimers.
- These opinions are totally my own.
- This is for fun. I repeat: FUN!
- Not everyone can be on my “radar.” Which means squat in the end.
- I have extreme Iowa bias. I own it 🙂
- While this is all for fun, I do have a lot of experience in this arena, so some of my observations are bound to be right – right?!
Now that we have all that out of the way, without further adieu, here is my Miss America 2018 Forecast before prelims begin. Who will MAKE and who will MISS the Mark? This will all change after I see prelims, I’m certain! But for now, here’s what I’m feeling:
Alabama: This state has a reputation of sending ladies who are “old school.” Meaning they are usually platform, quality of life, and interview power houses, but not so current or trendy. With the Sam Haskell era, we have definitely seen a preference toward fresh Miss Americas. But I think Jessica Proctor is one of the “fresher-looking” Miss Alabamas we have seen in recent years. Her talent is solid, and she did very well at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (MAOT). She has a tough line up for prelims, going last after South Carolina. While Alabama seems to either place really well or miss the mark altogether, I think this will be a MAKE year for Alabama.
Arkansas: It’s pretty hard to follow up a Miss America from your state (unless you are from New York. Can I get a three-peat?!). Maggie Benson’s crowning video is one of my favorite of all time because of the way her competitors literally all leapt for joy and could hardly contain their excitement when she won. That speaks volumes to her character. I don’t think she was expected to necessarily win Arkansas, but boy did she run away with it: interview, ss, and talent wins! However, Maggie is dead last in the lineup, which could be ok for stage, but bad for interview. I can’t say I was really vibing Arkansas yet, but she looks super ready in Atlantic City, and her accolades don’t lie. She should be a force: I think I’ve landed on a MAKE for now.
California: This state has been hot and cold lately – and I don’t hear a lot of rumblings about Jillian Smith. Plus, she goes after homegirl (Iowa) in the lineup, which is a very tough placement. For that reason alone, I’m gonna call a MISS for this state, but we’ll see if I change my mind 🙂
Florida: Another powerhouse state, but I kept flip-flopping on this one. Sara Zeng has a lovely, unique look to her, but something was keeping me from pushing her straight through to the end. She has tons of experience and accolades, so on paper she should do very well. She will set the stage for swimsuit and could win it, and after I see her talent, I could be more “sold” on her making the top five. And we can’t ignore the giant IRMA in the living room – right or wrong, like it or not, Texas and Florida will have more attention for the hurricane catastrophes occurring in their respective states. For the first cut at least, I think Sara is a solid MAKE.
Georgia: I believe Alyssa Beasley is a front-runner this year. I also thought this about Georgia last year and was wrong, but I have had this strong feeling about Alyssa from day one. First, she beat an expected winner in a huge pageant state, at the age of 19. Second, for me she is the exact combination of sophistication, style, and glamour that I think MAO wants and that celebrity judges will choose. The celebrity judge factor, while detrimental to some, will play in her favor. Third, she won all the prelims in a really tough state, again, at age 19. And fourth, her placement for interview/prelims is top notch. Georgia is a big MAKE, and potentially TAKE this year, in my estimation.
Hawaii: A typical sleeper, I am very impressed by the polish and poise of Kathryn Teruva. She also has some credentials to her name in the form of Miss Teen USA placement and a prelim talent at state this year. Preliminaries will be telling for Kathryn, so I ride the fence for now, but I like what I’m seeing from her out of Atlantic City so far.
Iowa: (bias alert). Iowa has, in my opinion, the best track record of all “non-sash” states in the last decade, and I don’t expect this year to be any different. Chelsea Dubczak has an amazing story to tell, talent to share, and heart for serving. And like Arkansas, she was absolutely loved by all of her competitors. She also has one of the very best placements for interview/prelims of anyone this year. I’d love to go on and on about why we love our Miss Iowa, but for now I will just say that I think there is a very real possibility of another double preliminary winner out of Iowa. She won talent in a state that is known for being loaded with talent. And if the judges truly appreciate fitness over thin-ness, there is no question she is the fittest person on that stage. I really hope the celebrity judges score on fitness as well because if they do, she could do extremely well. Iowa is a MAKE – and I would be ecstatic to see her TAKE!
Kentucky: I’m not sure. Molly Matney won in a tough state, but I need to see prelims to gauge whether she will be in the finals mix or not. Good prelim placement, though. I ride neutral for now.
Louisiana: I can’t decide. I almost feel like because Laryssa comes from a “pageant family,” there might be this over-preparation and expectation that will come off as the opposite of fresh. But none of that is based on anything substantial except that sometimes she looks lovely and other times overdone. I’m torn between thinking her background will help or hurt her, so I sit stagnant for now. She competes right after Georgia, which is a huge negative for her, but Louisiana is definitely one I will be watching in prelims.
Maryland: If we are going for the “Miss America look” alone, Kathleen Masek is a MAKE simply for that. I expect her to be a swimsuit contender, and if she carries her weight in talent as well, she will be in the mix. Her placement is pretty good as well. Having won zero prelims that I’m aware of, I’m just a tad leery to place her in the MAKE column just yet.
Michigan: Heather Kendrick has my eye, but I need to see prelims. She has the extremely difficult job of starting in the #1 position of the whole thing, but if she brings good energy, it can work for her instead of against her.
Mississippi: There are always a few big-hitter states that are left out, but I don’t know where to lean with Mississippi. Anne Elizabeth Buys has the goods to do well, but I think going after Texas will be hard. We’ll see if this southern belle holds her own onstage.
Missouri: Missouri isn’t typically on my radar, but Jennifer Davis look so polished and Miss America-ready that I can’t help but notice her! She also has terrific placement in the lineup, so if she shines onstage, I’d love to see another Midwest gal in the mix.
New Hampshire: I love a girl with tenacity (just keep swimming!), and this gal is the Sarah Kline of last year. Lauren Percy has MAOT experience, but beyond that, she has four years at the state level with several accolades to boot. I’d love to see her in there, but going after Oklahoma is a tough spot to be in. I’m pressing hold on New Hampshire.
New Jersey: Remember what I just said about New Hampshire’s tenacity? Same goes for this gal. MAOT experience, plus SIX years at state – wow! I am impressed by Kaitlyn Schoeffel, but I do hesitate when it takes that long to win in a non-sash state. Nonetheless, she is definitely on my radar and hope she delivers in prelims 🙂
New York: The powerhouse of the last several years, I don’t think this is the year for New York. You can’t win ’em all (try as you may!) and I call it a MISS for New York.
Ohio: Sarah Clapper has a strong record of winning swimsuit at state, and could do so in Atlantic City as well. She has looked very polished and stylish all week. I want to see her talent on Friday because she could do well if her talent is also solid.
Oklahoma: This is a controversial state. Oklahoma has one of the strongest programs in MAO history. And it is very atypical to come into this state as a relative newbie and win. You have to earn your stripes so to speak in this powerhouse state. But Triana Browne came from almost nowhere to stun everyone this year. You don’t do that without being really spectacular. So while some bitter Bettys are calling her a MISS this year, I go with my gut and say she’s gorgeous, she’s talented (won prelim talent), she’s Miss OKLAHOMA for pete’s sake – she’s going to be in the mix. Plus I love a Cinderella story: MAKE.
South Carolina: Suzi Roberts for me is about the most quintessential southern belle with a trendy twist as you can get. Her shorter hair is cute and sassy, and makes her more memorable than all the fake extensions we’ll see. This is another state that has HUGE numbers at the state level: she’s a returning first runner up, swimsuit winner, and added talent to that list this year. She’s definitely a force: MAKE.
Tennessee: I’m so torn on Caty Davis. I could call her my “she’s either gonna totally miss or go through to the end” gal. I think she has the goods and the placement to have a successful run, but I reserve putting her in the mix just yet until after prelims. I do think she could give Florida a run for the swimsuit prelim, though.
Texas: I have to admit, I have been underwhelmed by Texas over the last decade or so, but most of their titleholders sneak in the mix. Texas is obviously a pageant powerhouse, but I think Margana Wood has a lot to offer besides her state name. She was successful in the MAOT program, and has some preliminary awards under her belt. I feel like if past Texas titleholders have made the cut, Margana certainly will hit it out of the park and MAKE it this year.
Utah: JessiKate Riley has a lot of talent awards coming in to Miss America, so I think it’s fair to say she’s in the mix for talent. Utah is a weird state in that it isn’t a southern sash-state, yet has huge numbers at the state competition each year. Utah is definitely on my radar for talent and overall placement. I’ll say MAKE thusfar.
Virginia: Gorgeous and MAOT top ten, Cecili Weber (fun name, huh?!) is in an extremely good place in the lineup. I put her at a MAKE, and if her talent is solid, she could go far.
Washington: Nicole Renard has a ton of pageant experience and loads of talent. I could see her winning a prelim talent.
Whew. That’s a lot to digest, huh?! If I didn’t mention a state, it’s simply because the titleholder hasn’t made an impression on me yet – good or bad! Other names I’ve seen popping up frequently: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.
I guess if I had to guess today, my top fifteen would be: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia. Or something like that! 🙂
The good news is, prelims haven’t started yet, so it’s anybody’s competition right now. The bad news is…prelims haven’t started yet, so ALL of my thoughts could change in a snap. I’ll be tweeting, posting, blogging, vlogging my way through as #MYMdoesAC, so please join us at http://www.facebook.com/MYMPageant for all the latest and greatest!