The award winners were the same, but they switched categories at the Miss Nebraska Scholarship Program as the Preliminary On-Stage Interview Award went to Allie Swanson, Miss Heartland, and the Preliminary Evening Wear Award went to Miss State Fair Allison Baird.

“Before I did pageants, I was an athlete,” said Swanson, who played basketball at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. “I didn’t know the first thing about putting makeup on, about dresses and look at me now.”

She said, however, the competition is about more than outside appearance.

“It’s about what comes out of my mouth and what I believe in,” Swanson said, “and being completely authentic on stage.”

Swanson said she encourages women to get involved in the Miss Nebraska Program no matter what their background. She also won the Community Service Award.

Baird said winning for the second night in a row means all her work has paid off.

“I’m so glad that the judges are getting to see the truest version of myself,” Baird said. “Going into this week, that’s what I wanted more than anything.”

She also had some advice for future candidates.

“When women compete on this stage and their voices get heard, it makes everyone in that audience, whether they’re little girls or adults believe that their voice can be fostered and listened to as well,” Baird said.

Miss Alliance Hayden Richardson won the Miss America Service Award, and Makinzie Gregory, Miss Kool-Aid Days, won the Miss America Academic Award.

The finals begin tonight with the announcement of the Top 8 candidates who will compete for the title of Miss Nebraska 2019.

The candidates will compete in each category: On-Stage Interview, Evening Wear and Talent. The Talent competition accounts for 50% of the candidates’ score.

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