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The Home State Hero Florida’s Leah Sykes emerged from a field of 52 state delegates to be crowned Miss America’s Outstanding Teen in front of a vivacious Sunshine State audience T PHOTO BY JENN CADY 58 PAGEANTRY he City Beautiful was the destina- tion for 52 of the nation’s most ex- ceptional teenage ladies, as they descended upon Orlando, Florida to compete for the prestigious title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. Hosted by Greg Hutson and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, the 2014 MAOT competition was per- haps the most incredible and exciting yet, as the “American Idol Experience” theme had the state delegates giving it their all in front of a massive audience filled with their friends, fam- ilies and fans. Opening the ceremony was a spectacular light show of energy that paced the opening number’s parade of state delegates and their in- troductions, as the 52 young women proudly displayed their individually chosen red cocktail dresses provided by designer Tony Bowls. The contenders for the MAOT title were quickly narrowed down to the Top 12, which included North Carolina’s Emili McPhail, Colorado’s Caitlin Quisenberry, North Dako- ta’s Abby Wolfe, Alabama’s Jessica Procter, Rhode Island’s Heather Shen, Virginia’s Cassie Donegan, Wisconsin’s Jaime Nicole Morelan, Texas’ Sheridan Donevant, Oklahoma’s Ashten Vincent, New Jersey’s Alyssa Sullivan, Florida’s Leah Sykes and Missouri’s Tess Mandoli. Greg and Mallory wasted no time moving on to the Lifestyle and Fitness category, as each contestant showed her strategy in a choreo- graphed fitness routine to an up-tempo dance beat while outfitted in athletic training gear. The talent competition provided an array of wonderful selections for the finalists, allowing the girls to express their individuality and pas-