HOT SPRINGS - Nineteen-year-old Meridith Gould is on quite a roll.
Gould, competing as Miss Lake Alvin was crowned the 68th Miss South Dakota on Saturday night.
It was the fourth consecutive pageant win for the new Miss South Dakota. Gould was the 2012 Miss South Dakota’s Outstanding Teen, so going back to her Teen local pageant, she has heard her name called as a winner in four straight competitions.
But she hasn’t always enjoyed that same success. In fact, it may be due to her not winning in two Miss South Dakota's Outstanding Teen Pageants that she wears the Miss S.D. crown today.
“I was upset after not winning (in 2011),” Gould said Sunday morning, about 12 hours after her being crowned Miss S.D.
“I knew what I had done to prepare for the pageant, but I didn’t have the right mindset,” she said.
“After that year I changed how I approached the entire pageant procedure and how I related to my fellow competitors and the Miss South Dakota organization.”
It worked, as Gould says she has become closer to the other contestants and has found a very comfortable place in the system.
“I knew that coming into Miss South Dakota this year that whatever the outcome, it was going to be good ... no, great. Whoever was chosen as the new Miss South Dakota was going to be a great representative.”
Gould will receive nearly $10,000 in scholarships and awards for her title, including the Ray Peterson "Rookie of the Year," award for the top scoring first-year competitor.
Jade Possail was named first runner-up and Autumn Simunek was second runner up.
Possail receives $4,450 in scholarship as first runner up, while Simunek will receive a $1,500 scholarship for her second runner-up finish.
Possail was also presented a $1,000 Community Service Scholarship, and Simunek won the Children’s Miracle Network award in addition to the $1,000 Miss American Organization fundraiser scholarship.
Julia Olson was third runner up ($1,250 schlarship) and Jamie McKinney ($1,100 scholarship) was fourth runner up.
McKinney and Olson each won $1,000 scholarships as winners of the preliminary Talent competitions on Wednesday and Thursday nights, respectively.
Katie Crevier was voted by her fellow contestants as Miss Congeniality and also finished with the top talent score among the non-finalists, earning two scholarships.
A $1,000 Academic performance scholarship went to Krissy Zalud, who also won a $500 scholarship for winning the first ever People's Choice place in the pageant semifinals, through an online vote conducted as a fundraiser.
A special $500 scholarship was presented this year, recognizing the 25-years of support by Hot Springs’ Sylvia Tannehill for the Miss South Dakota Scholarship Foundation. This scholarship was presented to Shelby Beer.
For Gould, it will be a quick turnout as she will immediately set her sights on the Miss America Pageant, set for Sept. 9-14 in Atlantic City, N.J.
“I believe that having the experience of a National Pageant - the Outstanding Teen Pageant - will help me a great deal as I prepare for and then compete in the Miss America Pageant,” Gould said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge!”