SHERIDAN — Two Sheridan residents received crowns Saturday night at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center. Becky Bridger was crowned Miss Wyoming 2018 and Taylor Greig was named Miss Wyoming’s Outstanding Teen 2018.
Both recipients were first-time competitors in the event and still needed time to process the achievement shortly after it ended.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I think I just won but I’m not sure,’” Bridger said. “It’s a super surreal feeling. I can’t even believe that I just won.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” Greig said. “This being my first pageant and all, I didn’t expect it to feel that great when they called my name.”
Bridger, who came in as Miss Northeast Wyoming, took the top mark out of six contestants and won a $2,000 scholarship. She will compete for the title of Miss America Sept. 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Greig, a senior at SHS, bested two other contestants and will vie for the crown of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2019 beginning July 24 in Orlando.
The Miss Wyoming competition began in 1921 and has been held in Sheridan since 2004.
The Miss Wyoming contestants competed in five categories of differing importance: talent, which was worth 35 percent of the final score; interview (25 percent); on-stage question (20 percent); evening gown (15 percent); and swimsuit (5 percent).
Miss University of Wyoming Emily Calzolari was first runner-up and Miss Gem City Kennedy Schramm was second runner-up. Calzolari also won Miss Congeniality, while Miss Sheridan County Julie Tritschler won the People’s Choice Award. Miss Wyoming Scholarship Organization Vice President Patricia Caywood said the purpose of the event is to empower young women to grow personally and improve their communities.
“These girls are so brilliant and intelligent,” Caywood said. “You get that word, ‘pageant.’ It overshadows what the most important is, is how intelligent these girls are.”
Caywood said the toughest part is balancing feelings for the winners and other competitors.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Caywood said. “It’s hard as a state board leader because we get so attached to all the girls, so we have emotions going both ways. We’re happy for the one that wins, but we have the empathy for the ones that are standing behind her.”
This year was also the conclusion for the swimsuit portion at the state level. At Miss America in September, there will be no swimsuit competition.
“This will be a big year for the girls, because there are so many changes and everything that has happened,” Caywood said. “It’s a huge year for Miss America.”
Bridger recently moved back to Sheridan from Los Angeles. She is studying audio engineering and plans to become a commercial record producer and eventually a professor.
She wanted to compete because of the opportunity to have her voice heard and generate change. Bridger, who is adopted, focuses on the topic for her platform. She is bringing eight Filipino children to Sheridan through Summer of Hope this July and August with the goal of seeing them adopted in the future.
Bridger was also assistant director of the spring musical at SHS, her alma mater from which she graduated in 2014. She thoroughly enjoyed the first-time directing experience and being on the other side of acting.
“I realized that I learned a lot going to school and that I actually have a lot to share with the world about performing arts,” Bridger said.
Bridger has always been creative and is interested in fashion as well. She is looking into designing a clothing line related to her platform.
Bridger said preparing for the interview portion was a time-consuming challenge.
“I wasn’t politically up to par and it wasn’t because I didn’t care, I just never bothered to know,” she said. “But I think at this age it’s so crucial we know what’s going on in the world.”
Bridger also teaches private vocal lessons to a few high school students, including Logen Livingston, who competed in the teen contest. Livingston won the teen People’s Choice and Miss Congeniality awards.
A few months ago, Bridger and Livingston decided together to compete. They often dieted and exercised with each other. Livingston recalled getting a late-night text from Bridger early into the training regimen.
“She goes, ‘Logen, all we can do is eat grass and work out for the next 30 days,’” Livingston said. “That’s one of my most memorable moments.”
Fittingly, after the competition Bridger had a food-related celebration plan with friends.
“I’m going to eat a pizza, like a whole pizza,” she said.
Sheridan native and Miss Wyoming 2017 Cheyenne Buyert placed the crown atop Bridger’s head.
Buyert said handing over the title was emotional, but not for selfish reasons.
“It can often be misinterpreted as me being sad to give up a crown,” Buyert said. “It is sad, but that’s not what it’s been about for me. It’s been about the service and the connections.”
Greig received the crown from last year’s winner, Wheatland resident Amelia Beck Winter. Greig’s platform is “Be the Change,” which focuses on connecting to and encouraging children.
“It’s really all about helping future generations thrive so that one day they can change the world,” Greig said. “Letting kids know they have a voice in their community and their life, and if they see something they don’t like, they can change it.”
She works with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and plans to start a pen pal program between Sheridan High School and a local elementary school.
The night marked the end of a long-held format and was capped off with two hometown winners.