Four young women represented the Bay Area in the Miss Texas 2020 USA pageant, with Lesha Wincher of Friendswood winning “best in swimsuit” from a field of 82 contestants.
As Miss Friendswood, the 2012 graduate of Clear Brook High School also placed as third runner-up in the three-day competition, which culminated Sept. 1 with the crowning of Taylor Leigh Kessler of Houston.
Wincher, the 25-year-old daughter of Lee and Jean Wincher of Friendswood, cheered for the Houston Texans from 2013 to 2017.
Also vying for the opportunity to represent the Lone Star State at Miss USA, a preliminary to Miss Universe, were Blaine Ochoa, 26, as Miss Houston USA; Carly Moran, 19, Miss Bay Area; and Christina Dillon, 28, of Clear Lake, Miss Heart of Texas USA.
Although not making the top five finalists, Ochoa, who was the 2011 valedictorian at High Island High School, said, “It was a dream come true to represent the great city of Houston at Miss Texas 2020 USA. I am extremely honored and ecstatic about continuing my reign as Miss Houston 2019. There is a lot of work to be done.”
Her platform is international relief, said Ochoa, who was last year’s Miss Bay Area.
“I’m an advocate for child sponsorship through organizations that help fund children’s education and food/water in underdeveloped countries,” she said. “I am planning a trip to Guatemala this fall to meet my sponsored child, Amanda, through the organization Food for the Hungry and see what needs to be done for her community and how I can use my voice, time and resources to make a greater impact.”
Fans who packed into a ballroom at the Hilton Houston Post Oak Hotel for the pageant donated more than $14,000 for the Texas Wounded Warriors Foundation, and appreciation was expressed throughout the pageant for soldiers, military veterans, firefighters and first responders.
Among the judges were Jeff Cohen, president of MMG, an agency in New York City that granted a modeling contract to the winner, and Stephanie Kuehne-Kissner, a former Miss Texas USA from Missouri City.
Following personal interviews with the judging panel, a presentation show was held Aug. 31 with every contestant competing in swimsuit and evening gown modeling.
Contestant not fazed by shoe malfunction
Early in the show, Moran’s fortunes were threatened by a footwear malfunction. As a fan from San Antonio reported on Facebook, she suffered “an exploded heel.”
“Her shoe broke,” he said. “She literally walked with one shoe flopping all over the place, but she handled it like a pro.”
Cohen agreed, posting, “She was amazing. She’ll be back. She is young, beautiful and confident.”
Said Moran, “I’ve been competing for going on four years now. Miss Texas 2020 USA is my 13th competition.”
Post-pageant, Moran returned to her studies in diagnostic medical sonography at the Cy-Fair campus of Lone Star College and a job at Muzzie’s Prom and Couture in northwest Houston.
“I donate my old pageant gowns to Angel Gowns to be made into many other smaller dresses and suits for women who lose their children during pregnancy,” said Moran. “That is something my mother went through before she had me; so I feel compelled to work with them.”
In the evening gown strut, Dillon dazzled with cascading blonde hair against a black gown with a high slit that was coutured with rhinestones. She had won a local pageant, Miss Heart of Texas USA, to advance to Miss Texas USA.
Wincher fashioned a sophisticated French twist to go with shimmering silver stones over nude nylon with cap sleeves and a crew collar.
Ochoa replied with elegant cube-shaped rhinestones and an asymmetrical design at the bottom.
At the end of the presentation show, Kessler was announced as a finalist for Miss Photogenic along with Miss Helotes, Taylor Harmon, and Miss Laredo, Chelsea Morgensen, a former Miss Teen Texas USA who also won Miss Hooter’s International. From those finalists, the winner was Harmon.
Triumph in swimsuit competition
Wincher was announced as the swimsuit winner over finalists Morgensen and Miss Third Ward, Hannah Johannes.
Last year, Kessler was Miss Photogenic.
With fans on the front row of the runway and throughout the ballroom waving fans bearing Wincher’s head shot, she appeared to be the frontrunner when the finals show began Sept. 1.
As 19 rather than 16 semifinalists were announced due to a tie in the scoring, Ochoa was the second contestant announced as a semifinalist. Next came Kessler, competing as Miss Lone Star, then Miss Austin and Wincher.
Other contestants selected as semifinalists were Harmon, Morgensen and Johannes, along with Miss Border City, Christa Schafer; Miss Capital City, Paige Vasquez; Miss Dallas, Caroline Jones; Miss Dallas County, Rachel Hornbuckle; Miss San Antonio, Morgan Pointon; Miss Dripping Springs, Mackenzie Lawrence; Miss El Paso, Annie Johnson; Miss Fort Worth, Janessa Jones; Miss H-Town, Sydni Leonard; Miss Rio Grande Valley, Maelia Salcines; Miss Sun City, Siria Bojorquez; and Miss Westchase, Priscilla Londono.
The five finalists, in order of their announcement, were Wincher, Pointon, Kessler, Morgensen and Harmon, who also won Miss Congeniality.
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be contacted at [email protected]
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