Miss Dakota Plains Kaitlin O’Neill Crowned Miss South Dakota


        24-year old Kaitlin O’Neill of Groton completed a clean sweep last night when she was crowned Miss South Dakota 2021 from among a field of 15 contestants. The title carries an $8,000 scholarship and a spot in the Miss America Pageant.

       Competing as Miss Dakota Plains, O’Neill won the Thursday preliminary talent competition and the Friday Onstage Interview/Social Impact Initiative before claiming the overall interview Saturday and the State Community Service Award. 

      Her platform is “Bloom – Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy You,” while her talent was a contemporary ballet. O’Neill is a Minnesota State University-Mankato graduate with majors in dance and marketing.

       22-year old Miss Missouri Valley Hunter Widvey of Rapid City, the Friday talent winner, is 1st-runner up and would step up should O’Neill be unable to fulfill her duties

     24-year old Miss State Fair Annie Woodmansey of Pierre was the 2nd-runner up and won the Quality of Life and Sylvia Tannehill “Kindness” Scholarship, each worth $1,000.

       23-year old Miranda O’Bryan of Martin, Miss Rolling Plains, was 3rd-runner up after winning Thursday’s Onstage Interview

     4th-runner up 19-year old Margaret Samp of Sioux Falls, Miss Rushmore, also received the Ray Peterson “Rookie of the Year” award of $500 for being the top-placing first-time candidate.

      The remaining semifinalists received $1,000 scholarships: Sylvie Larson of Harrisburg, Maleah Escembaum of Aberdeen, and Carly Goodhart of Sisseton, who also won a $750 STEM scholarship. 

       Most Talented non-semifinalist Courtney Remick of Prior Lake, MN, received a $300 scholarship plus a $750 STEM scholarship and Baylee Dittman also got a $300 scholarship as the top non-semifinalist interview.

       Emma Salzwedel of Sioux Falls was voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants, which brought a $500 scholarship. 

       There were no local, state or national pageants in the Miss America system last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so the term of Miss South Dakota 2019 Amber Hulse of Hot Springs was extended an additional 12 months.