By MATT CRANE
Miss Mississippi State University Stephanie Stanford is off to a good start at the 2012 Miss Mississippi Pageant, claiming the preliminary talent award Wednesday in Vicksburg.
Stanford was presented with the honor after her vocal rendition of â€śDonâ€™t Rain on My Paradeâ€ť from the musical Funny Girl, along with Miss West Central Breanne Ponder, who won the preliminary award for her performance in the fitness and swimwear portion of Wednesdayâ€™s proceedings.
Stanford is one of six young women competing for the title of Miss Mississippi who has ties with Starkville and MSU.
During preliminary competitions running through Friday, the 42 contestants are separated into three different groups, competing in three different pageant performance areas.
Stanford and Miss Delta Blues Ashley Hamby showcased their talents Wednesday, while Miss North Central Mississippi TaNechi Temple and Miss Tupelo Megan Rohman competed in the swimwear and fitness portion, and Miss Historic South Jessica Terrill and Miss Spirit of the South Jasmine Murray answered an on-stage question in their evening wear.
Heidie Lindsey, the head of the Miss MSU pageant, said Stanfordâ€™s win was exciting and not only she and the university as a whole are very proud of her accomplishments.
â€śShe competed against many other very talented women in her group,â€ť Lindsey said. â€śIt was a really tough competition.â€ť
Lindsey said she and Stanford have received many well wishes for her continued success in the competition.
â€śSheâ€™s got great stage presence and she really loves performing,â€ť she said. â€śShe just shined and really entertained the crowd.â€ť
Thursday saw Stanford and Hamby answer the on-stage question, Murray and Terrill compete in swimwear and fitness, and Rohman and Temple showcase their individual talents.
Tonight Stanford and Hamby will finish preliminary competition in swimwear and fitness, Murray and Terrill performing their talent and Rohman and Temple answering the on stage question.
The top-10 finalists will be announced at the beginning of competition Saturday where all 10 young women will once again perform in the three areas showcased during preliminaries.
Tickets for the Miss Mississippi pageant are still available with Friday tickets costing $40 and Saturday tickets costing $50. For more information on the 2012 Miss Mississippi Pageant, visit their website at http://www.missmississippipageant.com.