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A very special follow-up

Amanda Zachary
When you run across an old friend's name on the Internet, you suddenly realize how small the world has become. Maybe you want to renew acquaintances, or maybe you want to run and hide. But that name from the past definitely gets your attention.

Amanda Zachary of Illinois felt a pleasant jolt of recognition one day in 1999 when she went online to check pageant information. She read that Heather Konitshek of Connecticut had been crowned Miss Teen America.

Amanda Zachary Heather! Her friend and rival from a preteen competition a few years earlier. Heather Konitshek was Miss Teen America, winner of one of the most challenging pageants in the country.

Ms. Zachary was delighted at her friend's success, but being the pageant competitor that she is, she was thinking about more than a joyful reunion. She was thinking about that crown.

Not too many months later, Ms. Zachary was standing on a stage in Charleston, S.C., competing to be Ms. Konitshek's successor.

She took first honors in six of the 10 fields of competition. She was chosen Miss Photogenic. Then, edging out Maia Wirth of North Carolina, Ms. Zachary was crowned Miss Teen America.
The title passed from friend to friend. And with Ms. Konitshek moving up to become Miss Teen America Elite, the two now share a bond of pageant sisterhood.

 

The final five
Ms. Zachary is an aspiring professional singer with a voice that rocked the stage in Charleston. She has demo tapes already circulating in Nashville. She's the most famous resident of tiny Westfield, Illinois, which made her grand marshal of its annual homecoming parade. ("We don't have a school. We just have the parade.")

The Miss Teen America competition is a sort of pentathlon of pageants, judging young women in categories of beauty, brains, talent and accomplishment.

And if you started reading this story and suddenly spied the name of an old friend -- Amanda Zachary -- maybe you're destined to win the title yourself.

It happens.

Photos courtesy of Miss Teen America

Miss Teen America archive
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