By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Shortly after 4:30 Sunday afternoon, emcee Chris Jewell read off the results of the judges’ voting, and when it was done, Sheniece Morton took the crown as Miss Liberal 2010.
This was Morton’s third time to compete in the event, and it proved to be the charm. The winner said she was both excited and stunned to hear the results.
Morton said Sunday’s pageant had her a bit on edge.
“I was nervous throughout the whole thing,” she said. “After lining up with everyone and seeing how much effort everyone put in, it was pretty scary seeing who was going to win, but every girl would have deserved it just as much as I did.”
Morton said the evening gown competition proved to be the most difficult of the categories at Miss Liberal.
“It was a little hard to walk in it,” she said. “It has a slit up the front. I was a little scared that I was going to fall, but it turned out pretty well.”
As the new Miss Liberal, Morton will be competing in June at the Miss Kansas pageant in Pratt. She said she is still letting Sunday’s victory set in, and she is not sure of her chances at the state level.
“I’ll just have to wait till I get there, but I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of talent at Miss Kansas as well,” she said.
As her platform, Morton picked college expenses.
“I chose that because a lot of students have a hard time getting money to go to college, and they don’t go because of money,” she said. “I want to let everybody know money’s available. You just gotta look for it.”
Morton was crowned by Miss Liberal 2009 Elizabeth Rohloff, who said her reign was amazing.
“I can never thank my community or my family more than I have already,” she said. “I’m so excited to see how Sheniece does this year. She’s my best friend, and I’m so excited to see how she’s going to do it. I’m really excited. This has been a great way to pass on my reign.”
Rohloff took the stage one last time near the end of Sunday’s competition, and she said she had a wide variety of feelings as she made her final walk.
“I told myself that I was not going to cry,” she said. “When I got up there and when it got to the part with my family, an emotion took over me that is unexplainable. I can’t even explain how it makes you feel. I’ve completed something that’s so important to me and my family. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Rohloff said her year as Miss Liberal has been an education.
“There’s so much I can’t even put on paper or even in words,” she said. “I’ve learned how to talk better, walk better, poise better, how to communicate with community better. There’s so much I’d love to say, but there’s not enough words for it. I’ve learned a lot.”
MISS LIBERAL Scholarships and awards
Miss Liberal, $1,700 – Sheniece Morton
First runner up, $1,200 – Valerie Rito
Second runner up, $900 – Emily Jackson
Third runner up, $700 – Kelsi Moree
Fourth runner up, $500 – Lydia Young
Miss Congeniality, $100 – Jordan Eder
Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear Award, $100 – Sheniece Morton
Presence and Poise Eveningwear Award, $100 – Sheniece Morton
Artistic Expression in Talent Award, $250 – Sheniece Morton
Private Interview Award, $300 – Valerie Rito
Adrienne Rosel, Miss Kansas 2005 Quality of Life Award, $500 – Valerie Rito