JACKSON – When the remaining two finalists were waiting to hear the judges’ decision late Saturday night at the Miss Tennessee Pageant, the only certainty was that 2009 winner Stefanie Wittler of Soddy Daisy would be succeeded by a woman named Nicole and that she was either the Chattanooga or Lexington representative.
Moments later emcee and former Miss Tennessee Allison DeMarcus revealed that Miss Lexington Nicole Jordan of Memphis was the newest state titleholder and the recipient of a $15,000 scholarship narrowly edging Miss Chattanooga Nicole Mazzio of Clarksville who received a $7,500 scholarship.
Although the crown is leaving Chattanooga area representatives’ hands after two years, the Southeast Tennessee contingent once again had a strong showing as the region has dominated the state pageant for the last decade winning six of the last 11 years.
Miss Metropolitan Lacey Alford was third runner-up, Miss Scenic City Kaley Schwab was a top 10 finalist while Miss City Lights Ivy DePew and Miss Hamilton County Katie Kendall were in the top 15.
Second runner-up Miss UT-Knoxville Shelby Thompson is the daughter of Miss Chattanooga 1977 Eunice Belew Thompson.
Miss Cleveland Brooke Stegeman made pageant history on Friday when she was among the recipients in the first ever three way tie in a preliminary event as she as Miss Tennessee Epiphany Juliana Robbins and Miss Walking Tall Erin Hatley shared the swimsuit award.
Miss Mazzio, a 22-year-old graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, would have been the first Miss Chattanooga in 52 years to win the state crown outright.
Nine Chattanooga representatives have participated in the Miss America Pageant, but in 1948 Dorothy Free became the first Miss Chattanooga to win the Miss Tennessee title.
Miss Mazzio won Thursday’s swimsuit preliminary and song the pop vocal “Halleleujah” in the talent portion. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and wants to become a professional hair and make-up artist.
Miss Alford is a senior majoring in broadcasting at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and she sang the Melissa Manchester classic “Don’t Cry Out Loud”.
Miss Jordan is the second Lexington entrant to capture the title in the last four years following in the footsteps of 2007 winner Grace Gore Sturdivant.
However, she is the first University of Alabama student to wear the Tennessee crown. Miss Jordan is a senior majoring in Musical Theatre and wants to pursue a career as a Broadway entertainer. She was competing for the third time at Miss Tennessee but participated in the Miss Alabama Pageant last year representing the University where she was a non-finalist.
Miss Jordan will represent the state at the Miss America Pageant on January 15th when the 90th anniversary festivities will be telecast on ABC. She will also be the state’s goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network and embark on a tour of elementary and middle schools. Her community service platform is the America’s Promise Alliance which was founded by General Colin Powell and his wife Alma in 1997 to provide a variety of opportunities for American youth.
Meanwhile, Miss Wittler will be a correspondent for WRCB’s Friday Night Football starting in August as well as working in the marketing department at the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. She is also practicing for her appearance in the Dare to Dance fundraiser on September 25th benefiting the Kidney Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and resuming her studies at UT-Chattanooga where she is a senior majoring in Communcations. Miss Wittler could pursue post-graduate work with the $20,000 scholarship she received for her second runner-up finish at January’s Miss America Pageant.