Saunders completes pageantry run
With three spots still available in the finalist round, Rachel Saunders likely could hear a Miss USA host announcing her home state.
The first syllable started with a "kah" sound.
But an "l," not an "n" followed.
Miss California -- not Miss Kansas -- advanced to the round of 15. Saunders and 35 other women no longer were vying for the Miss USA crown Monday in Baltimore. The event was televised on NBC.
Saunders, a 2002 Tonganoxie High graduate, currently is a junior at Kansas University. She won the Miss Kansas pageant in November after taking sixth the previous year.
Miss North Carolina, Chelsea Cooley, won this year's pageant after the final round, while Miss California, Brittany Hogan, was first runner-up. Five women advanced to the last round, which consisted of questions for each finalist.
Before the pageant, each contestant and Miss USA 2004 wrote a question that would be posed in the final round if they advanced to that round. The finalists then drew questions posed by fellow finalists and Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey, who hails from Missouri.
Saunders is the second Tonganoxie woman to represent Kansas in the Miss USA pageant. Danielle Boatwright, a 1993 THS graduate, was Miss Kansas in 1996. Boatwright was first runner-up that year and was second runner-up in the 1992 Miss Teen USA pageant.
In fact it was Boatwright's mother, Vickie Cackler, Tonganoxie, who encouraged Saunders to get involved in the pageant at the state two years ago.