Oh so close: Miss S.C. takes runner-up finish in stride
Jan 17, 2013 (The Messenger - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- After a whirlwind week in Las Vegas giving interview after interview, smiling and walking gracefully while wearing swimsuits and evening gowns, and concluding with a runner-up finish in the 2013 Miss America Pageant on Saturday, what was Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers looking forward to the most
For the Laurens native and temporary Hartsville resident, it was being able to return home for a few days of rest and enjoy one of her favorite meals, a biscuit and gravy.
She is, after all, a Southern girl at heart.
"It's a great place to be in," said Rogers, taking her runner-up finish in stride.
The junior communications major at Clemson University said in a phone interview on Tuesday that being runner-up it comes with a lot of perks, exposure, opportunities and appearances. It also comes with a $25,000 scholarship. In addition to her rewards of first runner-up, Rogers received a $1,000 Preliminary Swimsuit Award on Tuesday night, and a $5,000 Children's Miracle Network Hospital Miracle Maker Scholarship for raising the most of all contestants in the Miss America competition for the Children's Miracle Network, totaling more than $20,000.
Should for any reason Miss America become unable to fulfill her duties, Rogers would step into the role.
Only two Miss South Carolina's have worn the crown of Miss America, Marian McKnight in 1957 and Kimberly Aiken in 1994.
Since Saturday, Rogers said she has been swamped with interviews for television, radio and newspapers and doesn't know when she might be back in Hartsville where she is given the use of an apartment by the Miss South Carolina Organization, headquartered in Hartsville.
"We are thrilled to have another first runner-up from the state of South Carolina," said Ashley Byrd, executive director of the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization. "Ali did an excellent job representing us during the 92nd Miss America Competition. She was one of the crowd favorites throughout the week. We had over 300 in attendance from the state of South Carolina."
Rogers said the hardest part of the Miss America competition was being cut off from friends and family for 12 days. The contestants were restricted in their use of cell phones and weren't able to see family or friends during the exhausting week of rehearsals, interviews, preliminaries and little sleep.
Cameras zeroed in on the blonde beauty from South Carolina's Upstate not only during the televised pageant finals, but also during a segment on 20/20 prior to the pageant. Much of the 20/20 titled "The Road to Miss America" was focused on South Carolina's queen. Clips from the Miss South Carolina Pageant, from her home in Laurens, the apartment she uses when in Hartsville, working out with her trainer and her interview during pageant week were shown during the segment.
As for the pageant, Rogers said she came prepared in all areas of competition.
"I knew what to expect," she said.
Her prepartions paid off in a first place finish in a lifestyle and physical fitness preliminary.
Throughout Saturday's televised event it was clear Miss South Carolina was a crowd favorite. From opening introductions to her appearance in a white two-piece swimsuit to her upbeat performance of the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" on the piano, Rogers lit up the stage and caught the attention of the judges. As the field was narrowed after each phase of the competition, Rogers was still standing.
With bright lights glaring down Saturday and 50 other contestants, a live audience and millions of viewers looking on, it was not Rogers' name that was announced, but that of Miss New York's Mallory Hytes Hagan.
If finishing runner-up was a disappointment to the tall blonde from the Upstate, she hides it well.
Rogers says she is ready to get back to being Miss South Carolina and will soon return to her travels throughout the state making appearances at schools, churches and organizations while promoting her platform of making a difference for children with disabilities. That is until she crowns a successor in July.
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