(Originally published by the Pratt Tribune. Written by Carol Bronson. Photo by Gale Rose.)
On the way to crowning the 75th titleholder, the Miss Kansas Pageant got right down to business. Thirty-six contestants moved into the dormitory at Pratt Community College on Sunday morning and competed in the first preliminary round on Tuesday night.
At the end of the evening, Makayla Weiser (pictured on the right), a 20-year-old Kansas State University student from Bonner Springs, won a preliminary award for talent, with a ballet en pointe performance to “Fuego.” She’s been dancing since she was four, got her first toe shoes at 11 and has been practicing for the pageant since February. She gives credit to her ballet coach who pushed her hard every day to get the hard work done. Weiser also competed in the 2014 Miss Kansas Pageant.
Newcomer Kendall Schoenekase, Overland Park, (pictured on the left) won the preliminary award for swimsuit. She is a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Arkansas and currently employed as a medical-surgical nurse. A full-time working woman, she said she also found time to work out at a gym four times a week, with a trainer who “pushed me to the absolute max to be the best I can possibly be.”
The second round of competition will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, also at the Dennis Lesh Arena at Pratt Community College. Final competition is at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Sharing the week with the Miss Kansas contestants are 21 candidates for the Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen title. Two preliminary competitions are slated for Friday at Liberty Middle School, with finals at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lesh Arena.
Preliminary winners on Wednesday were Cari Anne Cashon, a 22-year-old graduate student at Wichita State University, performing “Pirates of the Caribbean” on the piano, and Cassie Lohmeyer, 21, of Benton, also a student at WSU for swimsuit.
Cashon is new to the Miss Kansas stage, but competed in the Miss Oklahoma pageant last year while a student in that state. People have a stereotype of pageant piano music that it is boring, she said, explaining her choice of a piece that is fast-paced, energetic and fun to listen to.
Lohmeyer placed as third runner up in the 2015 Miss Kansas pageant. Her preparation for this year’s competition included “two-a-days” at the gym, along with healthy eating. She said she has worked twice as hard this year, while also striving to keep herself as genuine as possible.