WINCHESTER — Kayla Gordon tried to wipe away the tears, but they kept coming. So did the hugs from family who swarmed her on stage after she was crowned Miss Douglas County Saturday night at the Jacoby Auditorium on the Umpqua Community College campus.
“I feel so blessed to be able to represent Douglas County,” the 22-year-old Roseburg woman said after winning the title and the $5,000 scholarship. “I can’t wait to be in the community promoting my platform issue, healthy lifestyle to fight obesity.”
Gordon, a journalism and public relations student at the University of Oregon, was among nine young women competing for thousands of dollars in scholarships and the first-place title. Gordon will represent Douglas County at the Miss Oregon contest in June in Seaside.
Gordon won the talent contest, playing a classical piece on the piano and earning another $200 scholarship. Gordon won an additional $400 scholarship for being the top interviewee.
First runner-up overall was Hailey Neuschwander, a 17-year-old Roseburg High School student. Ashley Dombrowski, 20, was named second runner-up. Dombrowski attends Paul Mitchell school in Portland. Rounding out the top placers was Cailey Frasier, an 18-year-old RHS student. They received $2,500, $1,000 and $500 scholarships respectively.
Other contestants were Rosa Leifeste, 18, a UCC student; Amberli Levy, 18, a RHS student; Natalee Hatfield, 18, RHS student; Katelyn Jones, 19, UCC student; and Ellen Micek, 17, RHS student.
During the on-stage question portion of the night, Frasier said encouragement from family and friends helps a person break bad habits. Hatfield said having respect was most important in life.
Levy said she’s experienced setbacks, but knows winning isn’t everything.
The young women were also judged on evening gown and lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit. One-quarter of each score was based on interviews held prior to the event.
Several contestants danced across the stage during the talent phase of the night. Leifeste roller skated to a Katy Perry number, and Dombrowski recited a poem she wrote.
“Live in the moment so that you can create your desired life,” Dombrowski said during her presentation. “Don’t waste the time that life has given you.”
Miss Outstanding Teen 2014 was crowned Friday night. Cara Painter, 15 of Roseburg, earned the title and will compete for the state crown in Seaside in June.
The 2013 titleholders — Miss Douglas County Brooke Painter and Miss Umpqua Valley Hannah Truitt — made their final walks across the stage. In past years, Douglas County was represented at the state competition by two women. But organizers said it became difficult and reverted back to crowning one girl.
“This has truly been a life-changing experience,” an emotional Brooke Painter said.
Gordon was home-schooled and is a 2012 UCC graduate. Parents Angela and Kirby Gordon said they are proud of their daughter.
“It was good to see all her hard work come to fruition,” Kirby Gordon said. “It was great.”
• You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.