Newton High School junior Toria Griswold made a run at state royalty Dec. 19 and 20, finishing third-runner up at the 2009 Miss Teen Kansas Pageant in Lawrence.


Newton High School junior Toria Griswold made a run at state royalty Dec. 19 and 20, finishing third-runner up at the 2009 Miss Teen Kansas Pageant in Lawrence.

Griswold competed with 16 girls from across the state, vying for the honor to represent the Sunflower state in the 2010 Miss Teen U.S.A. pageant.

Also at stake was an $18,000 scholarship and $50,000 prize. Although Griswold didn’t win the competition, she didn’t leave empty-handed.

She was selected Miss Photogenic by a professional photographer at the pageant and won a $2,000 per year scholarship to O’More College of Design in Franklin, Tenn.

“I honestly had no idea that it existed,” Griswold said of O’More.

She said she’d like to go into fashion merchandising after high school, but has a couple backup plans in case the small Tennessee design school isn’t a good fit.

“If I don’t go (to O’More,) I’ll probably go to KU or K-State,” Griswold said.

Before embarking on her college career, the 16-year-old has one more year of high school left and is looking to make another run at Miss Teen Kansas in 2010.

“I feel pretty confident about it, making it that far this year,” Griswold said. “I think I might as well try again next year.”

Griswold said she was nervous going into the pageant but let adrenaline take over to carry her through it.

“I thought I’d be nervous, but I had an adrenaline rush and wasn’t nervous at all,” she said. “It was crazy.”

Griswold said a few of the girls joining her in the Miss Teen Kansas Pageant have competed on “America’s Next Top Model,” and another couple has come close to appearing on “American Idol.”

The panel of judges included a trainer, who travels to Nashville to work with the likes of Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill, the former Miss Teen Oklahoma 2005 and current prom dress model, and two retired professional football players.

“It was really cool to meet all those people,” Griswold said.

She said she had a lot in common with fellow competitors, including music and cheer-leading or dance. Griswold even found she wasn’t alone in her lack of experience.

Four of the top five finishers of Miss Teen Kansas were competing in their first-ever pageant. One thing that set Griswold apart was her hair. She said she was the only competitor who didn’t wear extensions.

Although she had a fair chance going into the pageant, Griswold said she was surprised when she was announced in the top 10 following a dance to conclude the Dec. 19 preliminary round.

“I just stood there when the MC called my name,” she said. “I had no idea I’d make it as far as I did.”

In addition to the final four finish, Griswold said she enjoyed the experience.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “Along the way, you meet some really great people.”