It’s tiara time tonight for Miss SC

otaylor@thestate.comJuly 13, 2012 

For those who attended or followed the three preliminary nights of the Miss South Carolina Pageant, it would appear that Miss Clemson Cynthia Leighann Bagwell is a clear favorite to be crowned Miss S.C. tonight at the Township Auditorium.

Bagwell, 19, won Thursday night’s talent event with a clogging routine that exhibited powerful and graceful agility. She won a swimsuit prelim Wednesday.

But just because she was the only winner of two preliminary events doesn’t mean she’s going to stomp the competition while smiling on her way to the crown. The Miss S.C. contestants, like those competing for Miss South Carolina Teen, were separated into three groups. Bagwell competed with 15 others in the Mu Group, which means there are 32 other contestants she hasn’t been scored against.

“Folks can win their group or not win their group, but that doesn’t meant they’re in the top 16,” said Ashley Byrd, Miss S.C.’s president and executive director.

In other words, it’s still anyone’s pageant on the score sheet. But anybody sitting in the audience for three days knows that Bagwell is a crowd favorite, as is Miss Capital City Anna Mills Polatty. She won a talent preliminary, and while other contestants have familiar pageant platforms, some explained through acronyms, Polatty’s is advancing neonatal care and prevention of premature births. Although she’s one of the shortest competitors, Polatty memorably sticks out. So have Miss Darlington Clarka Wickliffe and Miss Greater Greer Lauren Cabaniss; the latter was a top five finalist last year.

Immediately following tonight’s opening number and contestant introductions, the Miss S.C. and Teen fields will be whittled down to 16 (15 from judges’ scores and a people’s choice.) The competition will then move into swimsuit and evening wear. Within the first hour, the top 10 for Miss S.C. and Teen will be revealed and those contestants will perform their talents.

Whoever wins most likely won’t make national headlines like the reigning Miss S.C. Bree Boyce, who lost more than 100 pounds on her way to her title. But the pageant, as a whole, should get some attention because of the uproarious interludes by Krispy Kreme-loving Kristie Greene Lee and the wittiness of host Jane Jenkins Herlong.

Miss S.C. is more than a pageant; it’s quality entertainment.

Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.

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