Miss Southern California Regional new Miss California
The new Miss California is a classical harpist whose previous claim to fame included her ability to rap every U.S. president in chronological order.
Miss Southern California Regional Leah Cecil, 22, of Garden Grove, was named Miss California on Saturday at the William Saroyan Theatre in Fresno.
Cecil appeared to have somewhat of an inside track going into Saturday’s final: She tied in Tuesday’s preliminary talent competition, won Thursday’s preliminary evening wear competition and was first runner-up last year as Miss Garden Grove.
As she waited to hear the winner’s name announced, Cecil said she thought to herself, “I hope I’m not first runner-up again.”
As winner, Cecil receives a $10,000 scholarship from the Miss California pageant and advances to the Miss America pageant, which will be held in January in Las Vegas. There, she will compete against 49 state representatives for the title of Miss America.
“To hear my name was definitely a dream come true,” she said afterward.
First runner-up was Miss South Counties Crystal Lee, 20, of San Francisco, whose ballet solo of “The Swan” made her the talent winner in Thursday’s preliminary talent competition.
Miss Sierra Nevada Caylynn Simonson, 21, of Bakersfield was second runner-up; Miss Gavilan Hills Lauren Smolka, 22, of Glendora was third runner-up; and Miss Culver City Marina Inserra, 20, of San Diego was fourth runner-up. Runners-up each receive awards between $3,000 and $5,000. Awards throughout the week totaled $115,000.
This year’s Miss California pageant marked the 19th consecutive year it was held at the Fresno Convention Center’s William Saroyan Theatre.
Miss Fresno County Morgan Edwards, 19, of Clovis won Friday’s preliminary swimsuit competition and finished Saturday in the top 10. Miss Clovis Katelen Weisenberger, 22, of Kerman won the People’s Choice Award.
The 58 Miss California contestants included seven other central San Joaquin Valley local pageant winners: Miss Central Valley Desiraee Olvera-Smith, 22, of Visalia; Miss Delta Valley Prisca Shiralian, 22, of Fresno; Miss Fullerton Whitney Leyva, 24, of Fresno, a student at Cal State Fullerton; Miss Golden Empire Sabrina Ziegler, 21, of Porterville; Miss Kings County Amber Purdy, 22, of Hanford; Miss Merced County Caelin Nieto, 17, of Merced; and Miss Tulare County Danielle Lickey, 19, of Visalia.
There were also three from Bakersfield: Miss Central California Regional Izamar Olaguez, 19, a vocalist who was one of five nonfinalist talent winners; Miss Kern County Area Grace Pusavat, 24; and Simonson. The winner of the open Miss Yosemite Valley pageant in Atwater was Angela Zautcke, 23, of San Diego.
On Friday, 17-year-old Grace Lee Grant of San Francisco, Miss Golden Gate’s Outstanding Teen, was selected Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2012. Hannah Danielle Huyck, 16, of Clovis, Miss Fresno County’s Outstanding Teen, was in the top 10.
By Lindsey Jones