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Gresham woman wins Miss Oregon USA crown


A Gresham woman has been crowned Miss Oregon USA 2013.

Gabrielle Neilan, 22, of Gresham competed Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24-25, against 14 other women from across the state for the title. The competition was held at the Portland Sheraton Airport Hotel.

Neilan works as a phlebotomist and begins her reign by serving as a parade grand marshal in Albany this weekend, said Carol Lukens, a state director for the pageant.

As Miss Oregon USA 2013, Neilan wins $1,000, and scholarships to the New York Film School and Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., as well as a new wardrobe, Lukens said.

Neilan placed as a semi-finalist in last year’s Miss Oregon USA pageant, was third runner-up in the Miss Oregon USA 2010 competition and was first runner-up in the Miss Oregon Teen USA 2008 pageant.

If Neilan wins the national title of Miss USA 2013 she’ll be the first titleholder from Oregon to win the crown and would go on to compete in the Miss Universe competition. The Miss USA pageant is held in Las Vegas and will air on NBC in spring or early summer of 2013, Lukens said.

According to pageant websites, the Miss USA System is open to women between the ages of 17 and 26, and is judged in three categories — personal interview, evening wear and swimwear.

It began in 1952 after a Miss America refused to pose for publicity shots wearing a swimsuit from the pageant sponsor, causing Catalina Swimwear to back out of the Miss America competition and start the Miss USA pageant. The pageant is now owned by Donald Trump.

In other pageant news, Gresham’s Kenna Sloy won third-runner-up in the Miss Oregon Teen USA competition, which was held along with the Miss Oregon USA pageant.

Of the 15 girls who competed, Summer Richer, 17, of Milwaukie won the crown. Multnomah County’s representative, Morgan Wissel, finished fourth-runner-up.

Kari Ann Peniche of Fairview won the Miss Oregon Teen USA 2002 title and went on to win the national crown, as well as Miss United States Teen title. She was later stripped of her crowns after appearing nude in a men’s magazine.