South Carolina is once again gunning for a back-to-back national title, but this time, it’s not for baseball.
Miss South Carolina Teen Brook Sill, a 17-year-old Duncan native, is among 53 young women vying for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen – a title currently held by Rachel Wyatt, 18, of Piedmont.
Since being crowned on Aug. 18, 2012, Wyatt has crisscrossed the country promoting her personal platform of dance therapy and acting as the teen goodwill ambassador to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. She’ll pass on the crown Saturday and then head back to the Upstate to start her first year at Clemson University.
Wyatt has had a quiet month since ending her summer appearance tour at the Miss South Carolina pageant in mid-June and had her last public appearance before Miss America’s Outstanding Teen on Aug. 8. When she heads to Orlando for the pageant, her week will be packed with rehearsals, appearances and performances, all leading up to the crowning of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2014.
Although her reign will be ending, Wyatt is looking forward to the transition.
“I don’t think I’ll be sad. The only thing that would make me sad is if I was losing the people I’ve met throughout the year, which I know I’m not,” Wyatt said. “Just because I’m passing on the crown doesn’t mean all this is going away. I’ll be so thrilled for her to take on this year and this journey and welcome an amazing woman to this sisterhood.”
Sill wants to be that woman.
She has had only a few weeks to prepare for the pageant since her July win, but Sill said she’s made the most of them, spending days at the gym and working on her interview skills. She’s also picked out a dress she said will top her show-stopping two-piece gown from the Miss South Carolina pageant.
“That dress was my dream gown, but this dress tops it,” Sill said. “It’s very risky, but at the same time it’s very sweet, innocent and very Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.”
Sill and Wyatt sat down for a two-hour long chat about what to expect at the national pageant at Sill’s send-off party and talked about the ins and outs of MAO Teen Week.
“Last year, we went into it not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know a titleholder, but I’m glad to be that now. I gave Brook an outline of all the things I wish I would’ve known going in,” Wyatt said. “You really have to understand the mental state going into it. I told her it’s all about being positive and believing in herself.”
Sill is confident going into the week; she said she has a “gut feeling” about the competition and feels that this just may be her time.
“I did Miss South Carolina (Teen) two years ago and got first runner-up, but I knew I couldn’t have been Miss America’s Outstanding Teen at 14,” Sill said. “I’m ready now.”
Wyatt had a similar path, placing first runner-up to Miss South Carolina Teen before coming back to take the state title two years later and then the national shortly after. For Sill, the similarities in paths may continue on Saturday.
“I would not be surprised at all if she came home with the crown,” Wyatt said.