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Pageant preliminaries continue in Las Vegas

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Special for the Kenosha News

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Many pageant fans from Wisconsin and around the country believe Miss Wisconsin Laura Marie Kaeppler has it all to win the 2012 Miss America pageant on Saturday.

Kaeppeler won the first round of preliminary talent rounds Tuesday night after performing what many agree was a flawless classical vocal selection, and she gave an audience-pleasing answer to an on-stage question during Wednesday night’s preliminary round.

Kaeppeler also reportedly had a “great” interview with the panel of eight “celebrity” judges on Monday night. She may well be posed to take the national title this weekend, according to several pageant fans who have been to the Miss America pageant for many years.

Should Kaeppeler win the national crown, Kenosha will suddenly be at the center of attention and recognition as much as Kaeppeler. The state title will then fall to the first runner-up of the June 18 Miss Wisconsin pageant, Miss Seven Rivers, Raeanna Mary Johnson, 21, of Holmen.

The chance of a runner-up taking the Miss Wisconsin title has only happened once in state pageant history. The one time that Miss Wisconsin won the coveted Miss America crown was in September 1972 when DePere native Terry Anne Meeuwsen was named Miss America of 1973. Nearly 40 years later, DePere still boasts of having been the home of Miss America.

Prelims continue

The vital preliminary competitions continued for the 53 contestants who represents the 50 state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On Wednesday night, two more women won preliminary honors. Miss Texas Kendall Diane Morris, 20, of Ennis, won the second round of swimsuit competitions with a brown two-piece suit. Miss Oklahoma Betty Janine Thompson, 22, won the talent award with a audience-pleasing Irish Step Dance to “Warriors.”She grew-up on a small Jersey dairy farm near Davenport, Okla.

On Thursday night, Kaeppeler competed in swimsuit and evening gown judging along with the 17 other women in her preliminary group, including her pageant roommate, Miss Alabama, Courtney Porter of Clay, a 2011 graduate of Auburn University.

Cheering section

There is a large group of Wisconsin supporters who treked five states away to cheer on Kaeppeler and attend the pageant competitons held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Among them are her parents, Susan E. Kaeppeler and Jeffrey W. Kaeppeler, both of Kenosha.

Also among the Wisconsin contingent, are her Miss Southern Wisconsin pageant directors. Sisters CoryAnn St. Marie and Michele St. Marie Boelkow who ran the regional pageant which Kaeppeler won last April in Milwaukee; and current Miss Kenosha pageant director Joya Zamora Santarelli, who was Miss Wisconsin in 2000.

Kaeppeler held the Miss Kenosha title in 2010 when the late Louis Cristiano was the director of the city pageant.

Special moment

An inspirational moment occured during the Wednesday night contest when past Miss America winners who attended the pageant were introduced on stage. Former Miss America 1974, Rebecca Ann King Dreman appeared on stage with the aid of an escort, which drew tremendous applause. She is currently battling crippling stage 4 melanoma cancer, that she has suffered with for over a year.

Often a frequent visitor to the annual pageant, Dreman is at the Miss America pageant especially to support her daughter, Miss Colorado, Diana King Dreman, 24, of Denver. It is the first time in the 91-year Miss America pageant history that a former Miss America has a daughter in the national pageant competition.

The two-hour live telecast of the 2012 Miss America pageant will air at 8 p.m. on Saturday locally on ABC.

Pageant results

Thursday night’s Miss America Pageant preliminary stage results were not announced by press time. Turn to today for additional results, and continuing coverage in Saturday’s Kenosha News.

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