Sophia Skaltsis and Megan Ranucci stood on the Stadium Theater stage in Woonsocket on a recent Sunday afternoon, their hearts pounding and nerves understandably at an all time high as they held hands awaiting the announcement of who would be crowned the 2020 Miss Teen Rhode Island North America.
The teenagers were dressed in floor length evening gowns and had just vaulted into the final two places for the prestigious crown that affords the winner a place in the national finals that will be held in Orlando, Fla. in late June.
Needless to say, there were a lot of other people – most notably fans who had come to cheer Skaltsis and Ranucci on to victory – waiting seemingly impatiently for the judge’s decision, especially Kevin and Jessica Skaltsis.
Suddenly, the announcement came and Ranucci was announced as the First Runner-up, thus meaning that Skaltsis – who lives in Warwick and is a junior at The Prout School in South Kingstown – would soon be crowned Miss Rhode Island Teen North America for 2020.
Ranucci, who lives in Johnston and is an honor student at St. Mary Academy-Bay View in East Providence, immediately hugged her friend then graciously accepted her new-found title with a special smile as she accepted a plaque from Mariana Restrepo.
Skaltsis, meanwhile, said with excitement ringing in her voice: “Once Megan was called as the First Runner-up I hadn’t even processed that I had won. I just remember hugging her and telling her how proud I was of her for everything she had done. We both worked so hard to be standing here and I knew I was going to be happy with either one of us taking the title.”
Soon thereafter, pageant officials Anna Casador and Gianna Paul placed the sparkling crown on Skaltsis’ head as the audience burst into applause during a standing room only ovation.
People soon flocked to the historic theater’s stage to present floral bouquets, congratulate and photograph the 2020 Miss Teen Rhode Island North America and First Runner-up who are friends and have competed in other similar pageants in recent years.
Last year, for example, Skaltsis competed in the Miss Teen Rhode Island North America and finished as the Third Runner-up behind Ranucci, who took home the Second Runner-up title. She won the Photographic Award.
Skaltsis previously competed in the Miss Rhode Island Outstanding Teen and placed as the First Runner-up. She also competed in the regionals for National American Miss as a state finalist.
This time around, though, Skaltsis enjoyed her finest hour ever, winning the prestigious Miss Teen Rhode Island North America title while also capturing the Photogenic and Fitness Awards.
“I’m really happy for Sophia,” Ranucci let it be known. “She’s a great friend of mine and we were told the final vote was so close. I’m hoping she comes back from Florida with the national title!”
Skaltsis, who is enrolled in honors courses at The Prout School is on the gymnastics team and competes in the balance beam and floor exercise events as well as singing for the choir.
Meanwhile her platform for the Miss Teen Rhode Island North America pageant was nothing less than impressive, as she chose Childhood Cancer Awareness in honor of her best friend Carrigan Nelson, who last spring was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
As is the case in most beauty pageants, the judge’s interview figures heavily into the final vote as pageant officials try to select the contestant who will be represent Rhode Island at the national finals.
For Skaltsis, who is hoping to attend college for business as of right now and – as she said in a soft tone of voice – “I am hoping to continue to expand my platform even after I give up my crown in 2021.”
Or, for that matter, steps down in that year after bringing back the National Miss Teen North America title back to Rhode Island in June.