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The Crown: Miss Georgetown County returns after 33 years
By Emily Topper
After stunning the audience with a three-baton twirling routine and taking the top prize in the swimsuit category, Ansley Cartee of Anderson was crowned Miss Georgetown County on Saturday. It was the first time the competition has been held since 1985.
The revival drew a solid crowd to the Waccamaw High School auditorium to cheer on the Miss and Teen contestants in evening gown, swimsuit, fitness and talent categories. Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts emceed the event with Kevin Jayroe, co-director for the Miss Georgetown County Scholarship Organization.
Cartee, the evening’s winner, will go on to compete at the Miss South Carolina pageant over the summer. If she wins, she’ll have a shot at bringing home the Miss America title.
The evening’s judges included the former Miss Pageland Lori Bellamy; Joshua Wall, a musical theater teacher at Hilton Head High; Bailey Moon, a fashion consultant; the former Mrs. South Carolina Meredith Kirk; and Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber. As the judges tallied the evening’s results, Jayroe and Roberts joked about Roberts’ singing abilities and reminisced on her time on the Miss America stage.
Cartee was awarded monetary prizes for swimsuit and talent before being crowned with the Miss title and a $1,000 scholarship. Hannah Young, a Sumter High School student, was crowned the 2018 Miss Georgetown County Teen and also won the teen talent portion of the evening for her violin performance.
Cartee, who graduated from Clemson in December with a degree in business management and minors in entrepreneurship and athletic leadership, said she found confidence on stage thanks to her years of baton twirling. A featured twirler for the Clemson Tigers, Cartee’s talent routine featured a dance performance where she twirled three batons at once.
“With all the experiences I’ve had with competing, it really does shape you into the person that you are,” Cartee said. “I felt like I really did my best in every bit of the competition. I felt confident in my interview and in my talent. I’m a person that, as long as I do my best, I’m OK with the result.”
Now, Cartee’s biggest hope is to bring the Miss South Carolina title home to Georgetown County and share her platform across the state. A native of Anderson, she grew up visiting her family’s condo in Surfside Beach and fell in love with the area.
“Georgetown really is my second home,” Cartee said.
After she won, Cartee told Barber that she was ready for her year of service to Georgetown County.
“I told him that whenever and whatever he wants me to be at, I’ll be there,” Catee said. “I’m definitely committed and ready.”
Cartee’s platform is “BU: Be Unique, Bullying Prevention and Awareness.” As a Clemson twirler, she had the opportunity to go into schools and speak against bullying, something she plans to continue in her role as Miss Georgetown County.
“I want to bring bullying statistics down,” Cartee said. “It’s such a relevant issue. I also want to encourage kids to be confident and to be who they are.”
She has further experience working with kids and addressing the bullying issue as a teacher with Carolina Superstars Baton and Dance.
Young, the teen title holder, plays violin in the Sumter High School orchestra. The 14-year-old is a first-time competitor in the teen category, but has served as a princess to other contestants, including Roberts.
Her platform is titled “H3K: Hannah Helps Hungry Kids.”
“I knew childhood hunger was a huge deal in South Carolina,” Young said. “Schools really need food programs and there are almost 300,000 kids who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. My main goal is to decrease the number of food insecure children in the state.”
In doing so, she has created “backpack buddies” to supply students with backpacks of food over the weekend, when they may not have access to a school’s hot meals.
As Miss Georgetown County Teen, Young said she’s most looking forward to meeting the other contestants at the state level and continuing to share her platform.
“It’s truly a unique opportunity that I think all girls should be a part of,” Young said. Beyond the competition stage, Young plans to become a pediatric nurse and earn her performance certificate in college, playing violin in a symphony on the side.
With Roberts the reigning Miss South Carolina, the Waccamaw Neck had a presence on the Miss Georgetown County stage. Waccamaw High School students Mackenzie Russell and Taylor Cox competed in the Miss category, with Cox taking home the People’s Choice Award.
Waccamaw High School student Gracie Hicks competed in the Teen category. She was named first runner-up and took home the evening gown prize.
In the Miss category, Mikeya Murphy was named first runner-up. Catherine Wong was second.
Cartee will return to Georgetown this weekend to learn what the title — and the road to the Miss South Carolina stage — has in store for her. “I’ve always dreamed of competing,” Cartee said. “I pretty much have the next six months to just focus on this and get ready for this.”
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