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UTM softball player named 2013 Miss UTM

By Malorie Paine
On January 30, 2013

The 2013 Miss University of Tennessee at Martin and Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival pageants were held in conjunction on Jan. 26 at UTM's Student Life Center.

Thirteen young women competed in the pageant for the two titles. Six of the 13 women are current students enrolled at UTM. Women from across the state also came to Martin, Tenn. to take their chances at receiving a crown. The two winners from the pageant will be competing in June at the Miss Tennessee pageant in Jackson, Tenn.

The pageants consisted of five parts: interview, lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, talent, onstage question and evening gown. Each category made up a different percentage of the women's total scores: interview 25 percent, talent 35 percent, lifestyle and swimsuit 15 percent, evening gown 20 percent and onstage question 5 percent.

The pageant began with each contestant introducing herself. The introduction included points such as the contestants telling their names, ages and where they attended school. Some women even included their platform.

After the introduction portion of the evening, the emcee, Steve Holt flaunted his sparkly socks to the crowd. Holt said he "bought the socks from Johann's [in Union City, Tenn.], who now offers men's fashions." Johann's is the official dress supplier of the Miss Tennessee Pageant.

The second portion of the pageant was the swimwear competition. This portion of the contest is to show which of the women maintain a healthy lifestyle.

"This is the most dreaded part of the pageant," said Ginny Hankins, 2012 Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival.
Following the swimsuit portion, the women each were given the opportunity to showcase their talents. Several different talents were exhibited during this portion of the pageant including; singing, dancing and instruments.

Chelsea Boyd, a student at UTM, played the flute to "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele.

"It takes a lot of talent to get on the stage," said Bethany Meeks, 2012 Miss UTM.

The final part of the night the women were judged on was the evening gown portion. A variety of styles and colors of dresses were worn.

The judges for the event were Laura Berryman, Kelly Codega, Lindsay Frilling, Nick Glenn and Roger Walker. The judges are all connected to the pageant industry beyond just simply being judges. Berryman is a UTM graduate and also a past Miss UTM. Frilling and Walker both have children that are involved in pageants. Glenn owns a gym in Dresden, Tenn. with his wife and has trained several pageant girls.

While the scores were being tallied, Bethany Meeks and Ginny Hankins were both allowed the opportunities to take the stage one last time while holding their respective titles. Hankins offered the crowd a touching farewell address and thanked the "army" it took to get her through all the requirements of the year. Meeks also gave the audience a farewell address and she also thanked all the people who had helped her along the way. She offered a special thanks to Taryn Hatcher, one of her Chi Omega sisters, who Meeks credits with convincing her to compete in the pageant.

After the scores were tallied and both Meeks and Hankins took their final walks across the stage, the new pageant winners were announced.

Kristen Lackey, a UTM softball player and English major, was crowned the 2013 Miss UTM. Lackey has been competing in pageants since she was in middle school.

"I feel like a lot of people define the pageant girl in a certain way, and being a student athlete, I wanted to show that no one defines me," Lackey said.

Lackey's mother says she did not have a vocal coach to help her with her talent portion of the night. She sang "Looking Through the Eyes of Love" by Melissa Manchester. Lackey's platform is modern day slavery and human trafficking.

"She's amazing all the way around, she deserves it," said Kenzi Tate, a teammate of Lackey.

Lackey's teammates and coaches were very supportive of her participating in the pageant. Many of her teammates, as well as UTM Softball Head Coach Donley Canary, attended the event to demonstrate their support for Lackey.

"We let her out of practice early today," said Sarah Daws, UTM Softball Assistant Coach. "She's not only representing the softball team, but also other student athletes."

Lackey practiced her song in front of the whole team in the locker room before practice the morning of the pageant. Lackey's win was not only an emotional one for her, but for her teammates also.

"For a team that doesn't usually cry, the whole stands were balling," said Becca Williams, Lackey's roommate and one of her teammates.

First runner-up for 2013 Miss UTM is Jordan Gunn; second runner-up is Jerrie Carrington. If Lackey for any reason cannot fulfill her duties as Miss UTM, Gunn will step up. If Gunn is also unable to fulfill the duties required, Carrington will then gain the title of Miss UTM.

Madison Hardy was crowned 2013 Miss Tennessee Soybean Festival. Hardy is from Nashville, Tenn.

The women not only receive crowns and titles, they are also awarded scholarships to be put towards their educations.

"Madison and Kristen each received $1500 to go towards their education. The runner-ups also received scholarships, our two first runner-ups received $500 each and second runner-ups, $200 each," said Hollie Holt, director of the pageants.

Both Lackey and Hardy will be competing for the Miss Tennessee title in June.

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