New Miss Connecticut titleholders tapped

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

A Wolcott High School student, competing in her first ever pageant, was crowned as the new Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen and a former Miss Southingtonwon Miss Connecticut.

Sixteen-year-old Morgan Mancini, competing as Miss Farmingbury’s Outstanding Teen, was selected by judges from among 21 candidates at the scholarship pageant held at The Palace Theater in Waterbury Saturday night.

Bridget Oei of Hebron, competing as Miss Mountain Laurel, was crowned as the new Miss Connecticut from out of 25 contestants. She was last year’s Miss Connecticut.

Mancini has had a year of beginner’s luck by winning Miss Farmingbury at her debut pageant and the top crown the first time she had ever competed at Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen.

To get so far in her first year, Mancini said, felt “incredible. I’ve worked so hard for this. I’m so proud of myself.”

Mancini said, “My original goal, since it was my first pageant, was to get in the top 11. And I surpassed myself. I’m so proud of myself to get in the top 11 and when I got into the top 5 I was so overwhelmed and so incredibly proud of myself.”

Mancini will spend the next year promoting an issue that is close to her heart explained, “My platform is ‘Completing the Puzzle: Autism Awareness and Acceptance. My sister Gillian has severe autism and that’s impacted my life and that is why I wanted to make my platform about it.”

“I think I’ve already taken my platform to the state level so I’m really excited to take it to the national level,” said Mancini

The Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition is coming up. It will be held in Orlando, Fla.in July.

To prepare for the national competition, Mancini said, “I’ll be with the prep team constantly and I’ll be continuing mock interviews and really making sure my talent (tap dancing) looks really great.”

Third time was a charm for Oei, who has made at least the top 10 since she started competing for Miss Connecticut three years ago. Her first year, in 2016, she was first runner-up.

Oei said she was feeling “so honored (to win). I think what I said on stage is so important. The 24 other women who competed alongside me means so much. To have them with me on stage to come after Miss Eliza (the 2017 Miss Connecticut) is such an honor.”

Oei will be heading into Miss America in September in Atlantic City. She will be competing in a revamped pageant. The Miss America system eliminated the swimsuit competition, dubbed Lifestyle and Fitness. Miss Connecticut still presented the swimwear portion of the competition, for which Oei was the preliminary award winner in that category.

“It’s a new year. It’s a new Miss America and I’m so excited to get going, to rebrand, to be the experimental run, so I can come back to Connecticut and share what I learned and grow this organization.”

When she got picked for the top 12, the top 8, and then eventually the top 5, Oei said, “It’s always pride and honor (when you reach that level), and a little bit of surprise because you never know. And anything can happen. But it’s definitely game face on. You move on to the next phase of competition. And you give it all your all.”

For the next year, Oei said she is looking forward to “serving Connecticut. I’ve taken a year off for school before attending medical school I want to reach out. I want to sing my platform to supporting women in STEM and get our young children to understand and explore careers in STEM. I want to get going. I also want to be the very best representative to Connecticut that I possibly can… and show them what Connecticut is made of. We’re a little state but we’ve got some great women behind us.”

The Miss America Organization made waves this past week when it announced that the Lifestyle and Fitness—the swimsuits—phase of competition are no more.

However, as the 25 women competing to be Miss Connecticut stepped on stage for the pageant’s 90th anniversary, swimsuits appeared once again—albeit for the last time ever. So fans, family, and friends watched as the competitors for this scholarship pageant paraded before judges in gold and silver bikinis (and the occasional one-piece). Occasionally, presenters and hosts made it clear that this weekend was a historic moment as the bikinis will be hung up for the last time in MAO.

Nakiya Davis Troth, the executive director for Miss Connecticut, explained prior to this weekend’s competition at The Palace Theater, “The information we have received from the MAO office is swimsuit will be removed from the competition and there will be some changes to evening wear. Not that (evening gowns are) going to be removed but there will be some changes made. They no longer want judging to be based on a girl’s physical appearance.”

“We are contracted with (the Miss America Organization ) and when they make the changes they happen in September so beginning in September we will run our local pageants and our 2019 state pageant by the new guidelines and rules that are put forth by the Miss America Organization,” said Davis-Troth. “However, this weekend, we will be celebrating our 90th anniversary and these young women will be competing in the way they always have, in four phases of competition including swimsuit.”

As for preparing Saturday’s winner, Bridget Oei of Hebron, for this revamped version of the pageant, Davis Troth said, “Miss America is 52 young women that come together who are incredible and absolutely amazing and we want to send our best representative there. So that’s what we are focusing on here in Connecticut— getting the very best Miss Connecticut we can get based on the criteria that we have now for her to be judged on.”

Bridget Oei is crowned as the new Miss Connecticut. (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)

Morgan Mancini reacts as she learns that she is the new Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen. (MIKE CHAIKEN PHOTO)