As a veteran member of the pageant game, Chelsea Killman has got the idea of “poise” down to perfection.
So one could forgive her if she dropped her guard momentarily to celebrate one of the top honors of her life so far: winning the Miss Teen Kentucky United States pageant.
“I was stunned,” said Killman, laughing as she reflected upon her own facial expressions upon hearing her name called. “The first thing I did was I started crying. I had this really shocked face.”
The competition, held this past weekend in Lexington, pitted Killman — a 2012 graduate of Southwestern High School and current freshman at the University of Kentucky — up against 13 other girls from around the Commonwealth, all vying for the crown to represent their home in the upcoming Miss Teen United States pageant.
It wasn’t a title Killman expected to win; in fact, as she stood awaiting the final word on stage, she knew she’d already received a potential kiss of death in the form of the “Miss Congeniality” superlative.
“It’s rare for the Miss Congeniality winner to win (the pageant),” said Killman. “I remember standing there with the first runner-up holding hands. She said, ‘I hope you got this. Everyone loves you.’ I thought that was the sweetest thing, but I thought she had it.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to win,” added Killman. “This was probably the toughest competition I’ve ever had.”
Killman has been participating on the pageant circuit for six years now, and has over 20 under her belt. She’s even advanced to the national level once before — with the Miss Junior Teen United States pageant four years ago.
“I went to Vegas and had the time of my life,” she said, and though she didn’t place that time among the field, she knew it would be an uphill battle. “I was really just going for the fun of it.”