Miss USA 2018 Candidate Review (North Carolina to Wyoming)


North Carolina – Caelynn Miller-Keyes
She’s improved considerably since representing Virginia in Miss Teen USA 2013 and now even channels a fiercer version of 2014 winner Nia Sanchez in certain angles. In another era, she would have been classified as middle of the pack. But with her compelling story of having experienced sexual assault and now being an advocate herself, consider her placement a lock.

North Dakota – Abigail Pogatshnik
Well, she’s not exactly the next Audra Mari, but she does have striking features.

Ohio – Deneen Penn
Her looks are placement-worthy, even though her preliminary evening gown was polarizing. And it’s not every year that we see a gorgeous contestant who lists “beekeeper” as her occupation.


Oklahoma – Cheyene Darling
To be quite honest, we find her a wee bit overrated, though she did slay during the preliminaries. Whether or not she can substantiate the hype now depends on whether or not she gave a strong interview.

Oregon – Toneata Morgan
This blonde bombshell is clearly her state’s best shot in years. And while starting a boutique isn’t exactly one’s idea of WME/IMG bait, for anyone to start a respectable business from scratch is already a laudable feat.

Pennsylvania – Olivia Suchko
She’s more photogenic than telegenic. We’re still reeling from her gorgeous predecessor’s unjust non-placement, which probably won’t be vindicated just yet.


Rhode Island – Daescia DeMoranville
Well, she is cute, but cuteness isn’t a trait we associate with other Rhode Islanders who recently fared well in international pageants, like Olivia Culpo and Anea Garcia.

South Carolina – Tori Sizemore
With the glorious exception of Alyssa Campanella, former Miss Teen USA 1st runners-up who crossed over to this pageant ended up with either lower placements or, worse, not placing altogether. Much as this 2013 alum performed creditably in the preliminaries, we have this gnawing feeling she’ll follow that pattern.

South Dakota – Madison Nipe
Like Nebraska, this Aishwarya Rai look-alike is one of the most facially stunning girls this year. And considering that it’s only been two years since the Mount Rushmore State ended their 42-year placement droughtit’s nice to see them taking a step towards consistency.


Tennessee – Alexandra Harper
The usually-formidable Volunteer State uncharacteristically missed the cut thrice within the last five years. This striking contender stands a strong chance of not only following through with last year’s recovery, but also making her mother, Miss Tennessee USA 1981 Sharon Kay Steakly, proud.

Texas – Logan Lester
Not everybody’s convinced that Texas can put itself back in contention, which could spell tragedy considering that it never missed the cut for more than two years in a row. Then again, there must be something special about somebody who could manage to beat a former Miss Teen USA to win the state title (Better luck next time, Danielle Doty!). Couple that with her impressive achievements in the real estate field, and perhaps Team Lone Star can still keep the faith.

Utah – Narine Ishhanov
Exactly the same case as Pennsylvania, except this one’s Armenian.


Vermont – Maia-Jena Allo
She has beautiful eyes, but her facial features are on the sharp side overall.

Virginia – Ashley Vollrath
Well, it appears this state is going through the same fallow period which both Tennessee and Texas went through recently. This girl might still pull a surprise, but it will likely be a huge upset.

Washington – Abigail Hill
It’s been 20 years since this state scored a convincing placement – we say “convincing”, because the 2004 placement was considered a jaw-dropping surprise. This lady’s a last minute favorite, if there ever was one. She may not have been a pre-pageant favorite, but her preliminary performance was definitely one of last week’s most outstanding surprises. Having two former Miss Washington USAs in the selection committee also bodes well.


West Virginia – Casey Lassiter
She’s a middling contender. Then again, the West Virginian candidates of 2005 and 2016 were considered middling contenders and look where they ended up.

Wisconsin – Regina Gray
Much as her perplexing hairstyle constitutes a styling emergency, her impressive accolades and back story will likely earn her brownie points.

Wyoming – Callie Bishop
At 28, she’s the oldest among all this year’s contestants who previously competed in Miss Teen USA. And like Louisiana, she also benefits from the expanded age limit. Yes, her flimsy catwalk conjures Chelsea Cooley flashbacks, but the fact that she survived a near-fatal infection which required one of her ribs to be removed makes her a potential worthy wild card.



Miss USA 2018 Candidate Review (Louisiana to New York)


Louisiana – Lauren Vizza
One of the two contestants who benefitted from the recently-expanded age limit (28), also happens to be the host delegate. Yes, she is facially striking, and yes, she’s competing on home court, but objectively speaking, there are other far more solid performers in this batch. Still, a possible placement shouldn’t be discounted.

Maine – Marina Gray
Tiny girl from a tiny state. She works for the military and was once recognized as Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year in her unit. But before you dismiss her as “White Deshauna”, her heart-wrenching back story of having been emancipated from her family at age 16 could earn her more points.

Maryland – Brittinay Nicolette
This redhead serves as Transplant Coordinator for the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland and as an advocate against sexual assault and domestic violence. Apart from that WME/IMG-luring resume, she also looked great in the preliminaries – probably enough for her to end her state’s two-year drought.


Massachusetts – Allissa Latham
It’s been 20 years since her state won its first title and what a way to celebrate that anniversary. This future healthcare executive stole the limelight from many pre-pageant favorites last week with one of the bounciest catwalks in this bunch. Now, it looks like she’s ready to steal a semi-final spot as well.

Michigan – Elizabeth Johnson
While not a clear-cut frontrunner, this Krav Maga expert is involved in a multitude of relevant causes, apart from being a solid performer. Sash power also might help.

Minnesota – Kalie Wright
She’s actually from Idaho. In fact, she follows the footsteps of her predecessor, who also once competed in Miss America representing a different state and eventually crossed over to this pageant with better results. Looks-wise, she seems deserving of a similar  lofty feat. But with so many other humanitarian factors now being considered in the selection process, it would be a relief to see her at least make the cut.


Mississippi – Laine Mansour
She’s another preliminary standout and to be quite honest, she’s even more facially striking than another Lebanese who competed in this pageant eight years ago and won. But again, with so many different factors considered in the selection process nowadays, she’s going to need more than a pretty face to advance.

Missouri – Tori Kruse
Last year’s candidate benefitted from the distinction of being this state’s first black representative. This year’s bet doesn’t benefit from such extra mileage.

Montana – Dani Walker
Her Youtube page has more than 10,000 subscribers as of this writing. That may or may not be her key to ranking higher.


Nebraska – Sarah Rose Summers
Quite easily the face of this year’s pageant and, as her surname suggests, she has an extremely sunny personality to boot. To be fair, she’s now a far more formidable contender than she was in her Teen stint six years ago. But with several other standout preliminary performances last week, will her pretty face be enough?

Nevada – Carolina Urrea
This year’s perceived frontrunners from Florida and Georgia are Puerto Rican and Colombian, respectively. As for this former Nuestra Belleza Latina contestant, she once overcame homelessness at a young age in addition to delivering a fine preliminary performance. Could there be room for a Mexican on top as well? It sure seems that way.

New Hampshire – Michelle McEwan
While her name suggests otherwise, this girl is Thai and, in fact, speaks the language fluently. Now, if only she had the same fierceness as Thai contestants.


New Jersey – Alexa Noone
This flight attendant of Filipino-Nicaraguan descent has a passing resemblance to Ariana Grande. She’s leagues behind Chhavi Verg (Read: ROBBED), but having identical twin brothers with special needs might be her ticket to a back-to-back placement.

New Mexico – Kristen Leyva
While this mechanical engineer won’t likely be the Latina-of-choice, her “woman-rocking-a-man’s-job” back story means she shouldn’t be dismissed that easily.

New York – Genesis Suero
She aims to be the first Dominican-born Miss USA, as commentated by Erin Lim in the preliminaries, though it’s worth remembering that 2003 winner Susie Castillo is half-Dominican. Now prior to the pageant, Latin fans initially envisioned the Final Two to be between her and her Florida namesake. Alas, that scenario became slightly less conceivable last week. She sizzled in preliminary swimsuit, but the wonky tower-bun she sported in preliminary evening gown might have been too much of a styling risk. It pains us to say this, but among the four perceived Latina frontrunners in this bunch, she now stands the risk of becoming the sacrificial lamb.



Celeste Cortesi Wins Miss Earth Philippines 2018


Silvia Celeste Cortesi, a 20-year-old half-Italian model from the Filipino Community of Rome, captured the Miss Earth Philippines 2018 title in SM Mall of Asia Arena on May 19. She was crowned by the reigning Miss Earth, Karen Ibasco, and will now shoot for another back-to-back win (and fifth crown) for the country later this year. This is the first edition of the pageant under its altered moniker. It was previously known as “Miss Philippines Earth” and even simply “Miss Philippines” in its earlier years.

As per recent tradition, the elemental titles are of equal bearing, which means the winners are considered co-titleholders and not mere runners-up. Crowned Miss Philippines Air 2018 was Las Piñas City‘s Zahra Bianca Saldua, whom most may remember as Megan Young‘s 2nd Runner-Up in Miss World Philippines 2013. A practicing Muslim, Zahra once again went for a modest swimsuit presentation just like in her previous stint. She wore a robe over her one-piece.  Miss Philippines Water 2018 is Berjayneth Chee representing Balingasag, Misamis Oriental and Miss Philippines Fire 2018 is Jean Nicole de Jesus representing San Rafael, Bulacan. Rounding up the elemental court is half-Ghanian Halimatu Yushawu, representing Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay. An aspiring singer, Halimatu was also briefly a contestant in Showtime‘s Tawag ng Tanghalan segment late last year.


Heavy favorite Marla Alforque from Cebu City had to settle for a Top 10 placement, together with Nathalie Louise Reyes of Dumaguete City, Lovely Lamptey of Taguig City, Theressa Mariano from the Filipino Community of Queensland, Australia, and Brazzirie Yanson from the Filipino Community of Vienna, Austria.

Rounding up the Top 18, the largest placement roster in the history of this pageant so far, were: Trixie Dadula of Tagum City, Ma. Divine Angela Veranga of Parañaque City, We’am R. Ahmed of Davao City, Gabrielle Camille Basiano of Tacloban City, Naomie Hannah White from the Filipino Community of Sydney, Australia, Noelle Uy-Tuazon (another Miss World Philippines alum) of Tangalan, Aklan, Marra Cristy Dianne Silvosa of Cateel, Davao Oriental, and Joanna Krystel Cabrezos of Zamboanga City.

Additionally, three more “diyosas” appear to have been close shots, based on their placements in various preliminary categories. Princess Faye Fernandez of Laak, Compostella Valley placed in the Top 10 of the Beauty of Face and Poise category, while Liz Mabao of Mandaluyong City and Lea Macapagal of Dinalupihan, Bataan placed in Beauty of Figure and Form. Another non-placer who earned significant recognition for  receiving multiple awards was Leandra Gabrielle Batingan of San Jose del Monte City who won Darling of the Press and Miss Hannah’s Beach Resort.

It’s been ten years since this pageant began identifying its entrants by geographic location and not just by contestant number, a move that seemed to be a positive omen for the country, since it started winning the international tilt since then. Curiously, these four Filipina winners either represented Cebu City or the City of Manila in their respective local stints. Celeste is now the first winner from an overseas community.

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck, Celeste! 



Miss USA 2018 Candidate Review (Alabama to Kentucky)


Alabama – Hannah Brown
This interior designer seems to have the competitive edge to her state back in the running after its seven-year placement streak was broken last year. But with the new management’s emphasis on achievements and compelling back stories, she might have to fight tooth and claw to secure a spot.

Alaska – Brooke Johnson
The Last Frontier
ended its 27-year placement drought last year, thanks to the gorgeous Alyssa London. Her petite successor may not be a shoo-in, but her interesting looks and polished stage presence make her a worthy dark horse. Being the first female photojournalist of Coastal Television might help.

Arizona – Nicole Smith
Diagnosed with ADD at the age of eight, she is now an entrepreneur who launched her own beauty brand. Right now, she seems to be edged out by other equally-strong candidates, but her solid performance could make her a worthy alternate.


Arkansas – Lauren Weaver
The daughter of a breast cancer survivor of eight years, this Miss Teen USA alum has blossomed significantly since her 2014 stint. She could easily be touted as a Top Five shoo-in based on looks alone. But with the recently-revamped criteria, her prospects now depend on how moved the judges, sorry, members of the selection committee, are with her back story.

California – Kelley Johnson
In a year where nearly 1/5 of the delegates stand in the 5’4-5’5 range, it’s difficult to miss a 6’2 stunner, even if you try. Followers of Miss America will also recognize her as the 2016 2nd Runner-Up who incorporated her profession into her talent presentation: a monologue about a nurse treating a patient with Alzheimer’s Disease. She also drew mixed reactions for citing Ellen DeGeneres as a woman she wants to put on the $10 bill, which, naturally, led to an appearance in The Ellen Show. Even without that prior exposure, the committee will likely reward her for her solid preliminary performance. The question now is: Can she replicate or even surpass her previous lofty finish, when she was still Miss Colorado? And speaking of Colorado…

Colorado – Chloe Brown
This orthopedic sales assistant doesn’t have the same spark as her Teen counterpart, who scored a surprising 2nd Runner-Up finish last weekend, so it’s unlikely that she’ll replicate that strong showing.


Connecticut – Jamie Hughes
Her coming from a multicultural family and her involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation could earn her some extra nods, but apart from those, she’s in the middle of the pack.

Delaware – Sierra Wright
It’s comforting to know that her state no longer bears the burden of having zero placements, but that breakthrough has yet to be followed through. This one-time American Idol aspirant (which season, though?) may be a long shot, but her pretty face and solid evening gown presentation could make her a worthy shocker.

District of Colombia – Bryce Armstrong
Attention will be directed towards her for patently obvious reasons. Yes, a lieutenant and a scientist are tough acts to follow back story-wise, but this bakeshop owner still delivered a placement-worthy preliminary performance.


Florida – Génesis Dávila
It’s been a long and arduous journey for this boriqua. She’s taken shots at representing Puerto Rico internationally, having placed 1st Runner-Up in Miss Intercontinental 2012 and had a far less fruitful run in Miss World two years laterIn this pageant, she tried out for Miss 52 in 2016 but was ultimately shut out. And last year, she became the center of a dethronement scandal for using her own make-up team in the state pageant. It’s nice to know that the dust has settled since then, and it’s a thrill seeing her bringing her A- game.  Will she finally end her pageant career with a bang?

Georgia – Marianny Egurrola
With 16 Top Five placements throughout this pageant’s history, it’s hard to fathom why the Peach State has never won the title. But after delivering a fiery performance during the preliminaries, this Colombian-born bombshell might just secure that overdue breakthrough. And, well, with the MUO continuously trying to appease Colombians with consecutive Miss Universe Top 3 placements as of late, crowning her would be a nice additional token.

Hawaii – Julianne Chu
To her credit, this Miss Teen USA 2010 alum looked her best during the preliminaries, but she’ll most probably be overtaken by other favorites.


Idaho – Téa Draganovic
Bosnian women, albeit donning different sashes, have been recognized by the MUO system before – not bad for a country that has yet to make its Miss Universe debut. This year, a woman of similar lineage has been making a positive impression in Miss USA thus far. While far from being a shoo-in, she could still pull a refreshing surprise.

Illinois – Karolina Jasko
There was early clamor for this photogenic Polish-American to sustain, even surpass, her predecessor’s Top 5 showing last year. However, the buzz dissipated a bit after her rather flat preliminary performance. Her best shot now would be an upset placement.

Indiana – Darrian Arch
Had she competed before the WME/IMG takeover, this Maya Rudolph dead ringer would have easily occupied the cellar. But now, being aspiring doctor who recently established a partnership with the Indiana Donor Network might salvage her chances.


Iowa – Jenny Valliere
This blogger one of the oldest contestants at 27, but also one of the shortest at 5’4. Among this year’s bevy of strong candidates of Latin lineage, she is the likeliest to trail behind.

Kansas – Melanie Shaner
You never know. She’s a solid contender, and her sister candidate won Miss Teen USA last weekend. Some of the good juju might spread on her.

Kentucky – Braea Tilford
It would be easy to dismiss her as another potential also-ran based on photos alone, but after her impeccable preliminary performance last week, a shock placement is now more conceivable.

Kansas wins Miss Teen USA 2018


The Sunflower State takes two. Hailey Colborn, a 17-year-old ballet dancer from Wichita bested 50 other young ladies from around the United States at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana on May 18. She is now Kansas‘ second Miss Teen USA titleholder after 1995’s Keeley Sue Sanders.

Colborn is an incoming freshman in Princeton University who one day hopes to venture into politics. She is also the proponent behind SelfPosi, a mentorship group which promotes self love and conducts lectures in various schools. At 5’4, she will now go down in the pageant’s history as one of its more petite titleholders. She was crowned by last year’s winner, Sophie Dominguez-Heitoff of Missouri, who now earns the distinction of having had the second shortest full reign.

Finishing 1st Runner-Up was South Carolina‘s Kirby Elizabeth Self, 2nd Runner-Up was Colorado‘s Chloe Zambrano, 3rd Runner-Up was IllinoisSyndi-Dion Bennett, while 4th Runner-Up was North Carolina‘s Kaaviya Sambasivam. It’s interesting to note that this the second consecutive year that a delegate of Indian descent captured the latter position.

For the first time since 2007, a second cut was made before the Final Five. Placing in the Top 10 were Florida‘s Lou Scheiffelin, Georgia‘s Savannah Miles, Louisiana‘s Lindsay Conque, Tennessee‘s Sofie Rovenstine, and Utah‘s Madilen Kellogg.

Rounding up the Top 15 (eliminated after the Sportswear Round) were California‘s Janeice Love, Maryland‘s Caleigh Shade, Michigan‘s Anane Loveday, Nevada‘s Britney Barnhart, and West Virginia‘s Trinity Tiffany. Prior to the pageant, Michigan’s delegate became an instant sentimental favorite as she was actually an orphan who grew up in the streets of Ethiopia before being adopted by Americans when she was eight.

Winning the Congeniality award before the actual crowning was Alabama‘s Kennedy Croomens. No Photogenic award was given out.

This year marked the pageant’s 10th anniversary as a livestream-only event, as made clear from the near-absence of production value. Erin Lim served as host for the second year in a row. This time, she was joined by fellow Fil-Am, Slay Model Management owner Cecilio AsuncionIt was for the first time since its inception that the pageant was held concurrently with Miss USA, set to happen in the same venue on the 21st. This was further emphasized by the clumping of both pageants’ social media updates in Miss USA‘s accounts. Given those conditions, one can only surmise what this could imply for the future of the pageant.



Catriona Gray is Miss Universe Philippines 2018


In what can easily qualify as a no-brainer to Filipino pageant fans, former Miss World Philippines titleholder Catriona Gray (Bb#20) was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2018 at the 55th edition of the Bb. Pilipinas pageant, held on March 18 at the Araneta Coliseum. The 24-year-old Ms. Gray also won the lion’s share of special awards, including Best in Swimsuit, Best in Long Gown, the Pitoy Moreno Best in National Costume Award, JAG Denim Queen, and Miss Ever Bilena.

The Fil-Aussie beauty is best known for placing 4th in Miss World 2016, much to the dismay of fans who believed she should have won the title. With her victory, she will now have a second shot at international glory. Moreover, she will now be the first Filipina to have competed in both Miss World and Miss Universe.

Crowned Bb. Pilipinas-International was 20-year-old Maria Ahtisa Manalo (Bb#17), who will compete in the 56th Miss International Pageant in Tokyo, Japan. Third-timer Jehza Mae Huelar (Bb#31) was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational and will compete in the 10th Miss Supranational pageant in Poland. Former Mutya ng Pilipinas titleholder Eva Psychee Patalinjug (Bb#32) was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International and will now have a shot at competing internationally. Karen Gallman (Bb#38) was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental, while former DLSU Lady Spiker Michelle Gumabao (Bb#19) was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-Globe.

For the first time ever, both runners-up also earned tiaras. Completing the winners circle are actress Vickie Rushton (Bb#1), who was crowned 1st Runner-Up and Samantha Bernardo (Bb#14), who was crowned 2nd Runner-Up.

Early favorites, past placers, and one dark horse comprised the remainder of the Top 15. They were: Murielle Orais (Bb#3), Aya Abesamis (Bb#11), Juliana Kapuendl (Bb#15), Anjame Magtibang (Bb#21), Edjelyn Joy Gamboa (Bb#24), Wynonah Buot (Bb#26), and Sandra Lemonon (Bb#35).

Making the Top 25 were: Ana Patricia Asturias (Bb#4), Sigrid Grace Flores (Bb#7), Shane Tormes (Bb#8), Agatha Lei Romero (Bb#9), Kayesha Chua (Bb#10), Kristie Rose Cequeña (Bb#13), Ena Louis Velasco (Bb#23), Mary Joy de Castro (Bb#34), Patrizia Garcia (Bb#37), and Trixia Marie Maraña (Bb#39).



Congratulations to all winners and finalists! More on the results in our full review! 

PAGEANT GEEKS’ Official Picks: Bb. Pilipinas 2018


Bb. Pilipinas-International 2018 – Bb#38 – Karen Gallman
Bb. Pilipinas-Supranational 2018 – Bb#11 – Aya Abesamis
Bb. Pilipinas-Grand International 2018 – Bb#35 – Sandra Lemonon
Bb. Pilipinas-Intercontinental 2018 – Bb#19 – Michele Gumabao
Bb. Pilipinas-Globe 2018 – Bb#31 – Jehza Mae Huelar 

1ST RUNNER-UP: Bb#1 – Vickie Rushton
2ND RUNNER-UP: Bb#26 – Wynonah Buot 

TOP 15 (In Numerical Order):
Bb#3 – Murielle Orais
Bb#4 – Ana Patricia Asturias
Bb#7 – Sigrid Grace Flores
Bb#10 – Kayesha Chua
Bb#17 – Ahtisa Manalo
 Bb#23 – Ena Louise Velasco
Bb#32 – Eva Patalinjug 

TOP 25 (In Numerical Order):
Bb#8 – Shane Tormes
Bb#14- Samantha Bernardo
Bb#15 – Juliana Kapuendl
Bb#18 – Rosantonette Mendoza
Bb #24 – Edjelyn Gamboa
Bb#30 – Sarah Margarette Joson
Bb#33 – Stephanie Joy Abellanida
Bb#36 – Loren Mar Artajos
Bb#37 – Patrizia Garcia
Bb#39 – Trixia Marie Maraña

Bb#9 – Agatha Lei Romero
#21 – Anjame Magbitang
Bb#22- Sophia Baino
Bb#27 – Henna Kaizelle Cajandig
Bb#34- Mary Joy De Castro