On March 7, at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park, the Miss Sonoma County and Miss Sonoma County’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Competition crowned their winners for 2020. This is the 74th year for this event. This three hours plus event was attended by a few hundred family, friends, neighbors and community members. It starred 2019 Miss Sonoma County Rhiannon Jones and Miss Sonoma County’s Outstanding Teen Emma Chen along with appearances by 2019 Miss California and Miss California Outstanding Teen.
Kym McNicholas and Herman Hernandez were the emcees for the evening event. McNicholas is an Emmy Award-winning anchor/reporter whose career includes stints at local news and radio stations. She currently hosts station KDOW ‘s “New Focus on Innovation” radio show. Hernandez runs his own business and is currently serving as the Area 5 Trustee for the Sonoma County Office of Education School Board. He constantly volunteers his time throughout Sonoma County and is often an emcee for community fundraisers and gatherings.
Eight candidates participated in the Miss Sonoma County portion of the competition which is for young women 18 through 25 years of age. They had four categories of competition which were: Interview (25 percent), Talent (40 percent) On-stage interview (15 percent), and Evening Wear (20 percent). Sunny Muscatell, an 18-year old from Maria Carrillo High School was crowned this year’s winner. She earned a $5,000 scholarship for her selection. She also garnered additional awards for Top Talent which was a French classical vocal “La Vie En Rose” and the Alumni Award increasing her total award to over $5,700.
Kiley Cardamone, a 20-year old student at Sonoma State, was first runner-up and earned a $1,500 scholarship. She performed a lyrical dance for her talent. Elita Damron, a 20-year old student at SRJC, was second runner-up and earned a $1,000 scholarship. Her talent was classical piano. She also was given the $300 “Spirit of Life” award sponsored by Sonoma County Airport Express which is given to a candidate who has overcome great challenges in their life. Damron was abandoned as a newborn in China and has persevered through 10 surgeries. Briana Alesha Wiley, a 17-year old student at Elsie Allen was third runner up. She performed a monologue as her talent and earned a $750 scholarship.
Lyndsey Rose Burcina, a 20-year old student at SRJC, earned the top interview scholarship of $200 added to her $300 participation award. She was also selected by her peers for the Miss Congeniality Award and according to the emcees her “Speed Cake Decorating” talent was a first for the competition. Other candidates were awarded $300 scholarships for their participation. They were: Diandra Casillas, 21, graduate of SRJC; Jenelle Estupinan, 20, attending SRJC; and Lily Ryman, 21, from Sonoma State University.
This year there were seven candidates in the Outstanding Teen segment of the competition. This category is for young women age 13-17. The young ladies competed in four categories: Interview (25 percent), Lifestyle & Fitness (15 percent), Talent (35 percent) and Evening Wear (25 percent). Kyra Shi, a 14-year-old student at Sonoma Academy, was crowned as this year’s winner earning a $1,000 scholarship. She earned additional awards to include top talent for her classical piano Mozart performance, a Sonoma County Knowledge prize from Omelette Express and an alumni award which added an additional $840 to her scholarships.
Pesali Phongsa, a 15-year old Technology High School student, was first runner-up. She earned $500 with an additional $200 for having the Top Interview Award. Her talent performance was a Jazz Dance routine. Delaney Bright, a 14-year old from Maria Carrillo High School was second runner-up who performed a contemporary dance for her talent and earned a $400 scholarship for her efforts. Analisa Ciolino, a 14-year old student from Casa Grande High School, was selected as Miss Congeniality by a vote of her peers. She and the other three candidates earned $200 scholarships for their participation in the event. Other candidates were: Christianna Duffy, 16, attending Technology High; Brittney Talbot, 16, attending Rancho Cotate High School, and Keisha Elward, 16, also from Technology High.
This was my first ever attendance at a competition like this. So, my “cuteness” award goes to the nine pre-teen 2020 Miss Sonoma County Princesses. Ranging from age 5 to 12 and under the tutelage of co-directors Kyra Kozik and Jackie Peterson; these young, very young ladies were precious in their participation. Not competing yet; they performed a sweet “Kool Kat” dance routine with Jones and Chen; escorted the candidates during the evening gown events; and were awarded their official sashes and tiaras just before the winners were announced. Thank you Zabella, Kabella, Priscylla, Aliyah, Kiara, Anniston, Brianna, Zaveya, and Amber for being the highlight of my night!