July 7, 2010 Edition

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Roacho fares well in MAOT

Ashley Roacho of Walnut Ridge holds the silver bowl she was awarded as the overall winner in lifestyle and fitness in sportswear at the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen pageant in Hot Springs Saturday night.
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Ashley Roacho of Walnut Ridge made memories over the Fourth of July weekend that will last her and her family a lifetime. They were in Hot Springs where she competed for the title of Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen (MAOT) and exceeded the goal she had set for this year's pageant.

On Friday night, she won the lifestyle and fitness in a sportswear preliminary. At the finals Saturday night, she won the overall Lifestyle and Fitness award, placed in the top 10 and went on to win fourth alternate.

"Making the top 10 was my goal," Roacho said. "I would have been happy with that.

"I was so excited about making it to the top ten that my heart was racing. And then they called my name for fourth runner-up; I was absolutely thrilled."

"Ashley had some tough competition Saturday night," said Rita Bilbrey of Walnut Ridge, who is a longtime friend and supporter. "She did a wonderful job every time she came out on the stage, and she looked great."

Thirty-four contestants from all over the state competed in this year's pageant. Roacho said the judges told her when the pageant was over that the top five girls were only one point apart in scores.

The contestants competed in interview, talent, evening gowns and lifestyles and fitness in sportswear. Mackenzie Bryant of Conway was crowned Miss Arkansas' Outstanding Teen on Saturday night.

"The judges said they would have been pleased with any one of us winning the crown, the scores were that close," Roacho said. "The contestants support each other throughout the year and in Hot Springs. I feel that Mackenzie deserved to win."

Roacho perfomed a tap dance routine to "The Man With the Hex" in the talent division.

Roacho said she received $700 in cash and awards, and is planning to compete again next year, which will be the last year she will be eligible for MAOT.

Once she is 18, she will compete in the Miss Arkansas pageant system.

"I had such a wonderful support group from home who were there for me, and I can't say enough good things about my Miss Northeast Arkansas' Outstanding Teen sponsors," she said. "They were very hard on me, and encouraged me throughout the year to be better prepared for Hot Springs. I learned so much from them and am very grateful."

She said that preparing for the state pageant all year was hard, but that it was all worth it in the end. She added that she would encourage others who would like to compete in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen or Miss Arkansas pageants to go for it.

"If you plan to compete, I recommend that you go to the Miss Northeast Arkansas preliminaries," said Roacho. "Their directors and sponsors are great."

"I loved having my family and friends with me in Hot Springs," Roacho added. "They were there to share the excitement with me, and it was wonderful."

Roacho is the 16-year-old daughter of Laura and Marvin Cook of Walnut Ridge and Richard Roacho of Blythe, Calif. She has three older sisters and one younger brother. She will be a junior at Walnut Ridge High School in the fall.

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