Lynzi Zettler started going to Miss Onalaska pageants when she was very young, and from early on, she could picture herself up on that stage. “I always wanted to be in one,” she said.
Zettler won $1,500 in scholarship money, with a total of $4,800 in cash scholarships awarded to the 12 contestants in this year's pageant.
The first runner-up was Sarah Krueger, a junior at UW-La Crosse who won the interview portion and was awarded the Spirit of Miss America Award along with Jackie Hart, an OHS senior. Another OHS senior, Winnie Klocke, was second runner-up, with UW-La Crosse freshman Mindy Stuebs and Viterbo University junior Rachael Collins taking third and fourth runner-up, respectively.
Hearing her name called as the winner came as a shock for Zettler. “I really didn't expect to win,” she said. “When they announced my name my heart just started fluttering.”
Both Zettler's parents have been involved in pageants for years, mother Marilyn as a judge in past pageants and father Robert as provider of photography services for Miss Onalaska and Miss Holmen. Their insight was a big help preparing for the pageant, she said, especially the mock interviews they did with her to prepare her for the interview with the judges, which weighs most heavily in the competition.
With Zettler's crowning last weekend, 31 women have been bestowed the city crown - there were two winners in 1995: pageant winner Heather Strutt and Sarah Brenstein, who represented Onalaska at the state pageant when Strutt could not.
In June, Zettler will go to this year's Miss Wisconsin pageant in Oshkosh as an observer, with last year's Miss Onalaska, Katie Ekern, competing against 27 other young women to represent the state in the Miss America pageant.
The best part of the Miss Onalaska pageant was meeting so many other great women, Zettler said, including Miss Wisconsin Tracy Gest and 15 past Miss Onalaska winners. “It was really fun to have the former misses there,” she said.
Pageant director Sally Hefti said she was very pleased with how smoothly the pageant ran. One difference with this year's pageant was the absence of the Woman of Achievement Award because of a lack of nominations.
Between the large number of contestants and the 15 former winners, this year's pageant was something special, Hefti said looking back on the event. “It was great having the support of so many women who have benefited from this program as well as the outstanding support of the community in filling the auditorium,” she said. “I would call it a success.”
During the next year, Zettler will represent Onalaska at numerous summer parades before heading to UW-Stevens Point, where she has been accepted into the dance program. She also will make a lot of school visits during the next year spreading awareness of teen depression, a platform that's close to her heart as she has lost two friends to depression-triggered suicide.
Hefti said the great part of the platform portion of the Miss America program is it gives young women a chance to speak out about something close to their hearts.
Contact Randy Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 786-6812.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: 30th annual Miss Onalaska pageant
WHEN: Saturday, April 29
WINNER: Lynzi Zettler, an Onalaska High School senior
FIRST RUNNER-UP: Sarah Krueger, junior at UW-La Crosse
SECOND RUNNER-UP: Winnie Klocke, OHS senior
THIRD RUNNER-UP: Mindy Stuebs, UW-La Crosse freshman
FOURTH RUNNER-UP: Rachael Collins, Viterbo University junior
SPIRIT OF MISS AMERICA AWARD: Sarah Krueger and Jackie Hart, OHS senior
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