Anticipation hung in the air of Salt Lake’s Capitol Theater as 2009 Miss Utah Pageant MC Johnny Revill said the words that would change somebody’s life. “The girl that will represent Utah at January’s Miss America, the winner of a $10,000 scholarship and a new car goes to…Contestant #27, Miss Utah County’s Whitney Merrifield!!” Embraces from the runner-ups and tears of joy were shed as 2008’s Miss Utah Kayla Barclay crowned the newly announced queen. The other 51 girls, all accomplished and deserving of the crown, applauded as Merrifield took her first triumphant steps as the Beehive state’s newest representative. The night was filled with excitement as parents and friends alike came to support their own Miss Utah hopeful. The energy only grew as it came time for crowning and all cheered as their top 10 favorites were announced. Although most of the focus of the night went to the new Miss Utah, oftentimes not enough credit is given to the amazing women who came so close. One of these girls was Miss Cache Valley’s Tayler Williams. She finished 4th as 3rd attendant, an improvement from last years 5th place. “[I’m] movin’ up one at a time, so I guess I’ll be back three more times then!” Williams joked. After a week-long competition of preliminaries, Williams, a swimsuit preliminary winner, was the last to be called to the top 10 leaving all her supporters on the edge of their seats. Following the announcement, the 10 competed once more in talent, swimsuit, on-stage question, and evening gown. Upon completion, each judge ranked the girls in the order they thought they should place. Talents ranging from Miss Lehi Emily Fields’ Opera Aria to Miss Legacy Sarah Pettit’s piano piece held the audience captive. “I’m so glad I don’t have to judge this!” one spectator exclaimed. Williams was surprised when the top 5 were announced. “It’s always a shock when they call your name,” she said. “At first you think, ‘was that my number and was that my name?’ But it was just such a great, great feeling.” Rounding out the royalty is Miss Lehi’s Emily Fields as 4th attendant, Miss Springville/Mapletons’s Hannah Wright took 2nd attendant, and Allie Edgington, Miss Provo was 1st runner up.
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