COLUMBIA, SC — The next Miss South Carolina will have incredibly tall heels to fill. Whoever is crowned Saturday at the Township Auditorium will have to follow Bree Boyce, who lost more than 100 pounds en route to the 2011 title, and last years winner, the irrepressible Ali Rogers, who was the runner-up at Miss America.
After three nights of preliminaries, theres no obvious favorite, so there is potential for high drama.
Here are seven I think are in the running for Miss SC, in no particular order. Of course, if one or more falters, the door could be opened for someone else to walk away with the crown.
Lara Scott, Capital City: After some woeful attempts, its apparent a contestant needs real talent to win. And Scott is a riveting performer. When she dances, there is nothing else happening in the auditorium. Everything conversation, even tweeting and texting stops.
Lindley Mayer, Greenville County: Mayer won Tuesday nights swimsuit prelim, and her talent, a Michael Jackson-inspired dance, had the audience buzzing. Mayer exudes confidence, key to her appeal.
Donna Tillis, Walterboro: Some pianists have performed as if theyre playing-by-numbers. Not Tillis, whose stellar rendition of the jazz standard Summertime set the bar high, maybe unreachable. She won a talent prelim, but needs a solid swimsuit showing and a stronger on-stage answer to finish on top.
Lauren Cabaniss, Hilton Head Island: Last years runner-up has had another strong pageant, even if she hasnt won a prelim. In swimsuit, she needs to, if you can believe it, tone down the spunk. Another solid dance performance, and she could be in the top five again.
Lanie Hudson, Greater Greer: Hudson won a swimsuit prelim, and her clogging and on-stage answer have her in a place to step past the competition.
Brooke Mosteller, Mount Pleasant: Mosteller has a capable voice, and after her Thursday-night swim win, shes made herself a contender.
Following tonights contestant introductions and opening number, the Miss SC and Teen fields will be whittled to 16. The competition then will move into swimsuit and evening wear. Within the first hour, the top 10 for Miss SC and Teen will be revealed and those contestants will perform their talents.
SCHOOL DAZE: Rogers reign as Miss SC ends Saturday. After taking a year off from Clemson University, shell return to campus next month.
This has been the most incredible year of my life, and Im so appreciative of the opportunities, said Rogers, who has been taking online courses this summer.
But it will be nice to be a normal college kid again.
Watch: Entertainment writer Otis Taylor handicaps the contestants
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.