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Young women and teens compete at the first Miss Carroll County 2015 Pageant held in more than 15 years, at McDaniel College on Saturday, April 4. (Lauren Loricchio/Carroll County Times Video)

After spending their entire Saturday performing before a panel of five judges at the first Miss Carroll County Pageant held in more than 15 years, two women and four teens were chosen to represent the county at the Miss Maryland and Miss Maryland's Outstanding Teen pageants in June.

Contestants were chosen from a pool of 12 women. Seven contestants competed in the Miss Outstanding Teen competition. They were judged based on categories that included interviews, lifestyle and fitness, a talent presentation, evening gowns, and onstage questions based on a platform chosen by each competitor.

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The day began at McDaniel College with interviews at 8:15 a.m. and ended with a crowning ceremony just after 8 p.m. on stage in the college's theater.

Taylor Steed, 21, a student at Towson University, was crowned Miss Carroll County, which earned her a $200 scholarship.

"It's an honor; I'm absolutely so excited to win ... it hasn't really sunk in," said Steed, a resident of New Market, surrounded by fellow beauty queens and others who offered their congratulations after the competition.

Steed's talent performance was baton twirling to the song "Bom Bom," and her platform was conquering childhood cancer.

Brittany Brown, 17, a student at George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology in Baltimore County, earned the title of Miss Patapsco and a $200 scholarship.

"It felt great because this was my first time in the Miss division; it felt great to get this experience under my belt with all these women who are so talented," Brown gushed after the pageant.

For the talent portion of the competition, she performed a contemporary dance to Whitney Houston's verison of the song "I Will Always Love You." Her platform was creativity is connecting/support of the arts.

Morgan Lash, 21, a student at the University of Maryland, was named Miss Mason-Dixon and received a $200 scholarship along with the title. She competed last year in the Miss Maryland competition and was second-runner up, she said.

"It was a really great feeling," Lash said. "I've worked pretty hard to get here to this pageant today. It was really great to see it all come to light in the crowning."

Lash said of the countless hours she has spent working out in the gym, choosing a wardrobe, interview coaching and prepping and on nutrition, "It takes a lot — much more than the average person might expect."

Paige Dutrow, 20, a student at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, won the first-runner up spot. Her talent was baton twirling to the song "Requiem for a Tower," and her platform was funding hope for cancer organizations.

Aryana Briner, from A. Mario Loiederman Middle School in Silver Spring, was crowned Miss Carroll County's Outstanding Teen.

"I feel so happy to win after being in so many pageants," Aryana exclaimed. "Today's my grandfather's birthday, and it feels great to win today after he passed away. I know he would be proud."

Her talent was singing "Buenos Aires," and her platform was compassion for the homeless.

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Katie Allen of Eastern Middle School in Easton earned the title of Miss Patapsco's Outstanding Teen, and Lily Bourgstein of Urbana High School in Frederick County was crowned Miss Mason-Dixon's Outstanding Teen.

Each winner in the teen division won a $100 scholarship.

Paige Hackett earned a runner up spot. She also received the Changing Carroll Award, presented to her by Sandy Soyke, regional marketing director at Transitions Healthcare. She and her husband Bill Soyke sponsored the cost of renting the venue for the event.

The award was given to the contestant whose platform has the potential to have the greatest impact on the county. Her platform was feeding the hungry.

Lily, who performed the song "Taylor the Latte Boy," encouraged childhood literacy as her platform.

The panel of five judges included: Kevin Williams, co-owner of Transitions Healthcare LLC; Kelly Donohue, former Miss Maryland USA; Dr. Lois Jarman, professor at Hood College and Shepherd University; Laura Egger, an insurance agent and member of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce; and Roger Voter, a consultant for America's Small Business Development Center.

The event was organized by Mae Alexander, executive director of the Miss Carroll County Scholarship Program, a former beauty pageant contestant, who resurrected the competition after it was on hiatus.

"All the feedback I've gotten is that it went well — it went smoothly," Alexander said. "Overall I think it was one of the most talented group of contestants I've ever seen."

Alexander said she will organize the event again next year.

"I'll have a whole year to plan, and some experience under my belt," she said.

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