Miss Utah played a classical piano piece and Miss Florida wore a "supersuit" to victory in preliminary competitions for the Miss America Pageant on Friday night.
Miss Utah Sophia Christine Symko, 21, of Salt Lake City, played an energetic version of "Spanish Rhapsody." She has studied piano for 17 years."There were always times when I wanted to quit playing and my parents encouraged me to continue," she said in an earlier interview. "Now I'm so glad I did. I use my piano playing as a part-time job to earn money for my schooling. I wouldn't trade that for anything."
For her performance Miss Symko wore a classical Spanish dress of black satin trimmed in large red satin ruffles that hung off the shoulders and with a ruffled red petticoat. She wore a matching red flowered headpiece.
Miss Symko, born in Oxford, England, is a graduate student at the University of Utah working on her master's in physics. She plans to attend medical school.
Miss Florida Melissa Aggeles, a 5-foot-8, 128-pound brunette who has said she was "quite the tomboy when I was young," wore a white competition supersuit, the famous custom-designed swimsuit said to hide flaws and enhance assets.
She was the second contestant to wear a white supersuit to victory this year.
The 24-year-old from St. Petersburg, Fla., graduated in 1987 from Florida State University. She hopes to eventually receive a master's in fine arts from New York University, specializing in classics and film. Ultimately, Miss Aggeles said she aspires to a career on Broadway and in film.
In the meantime, as Miss Florida she hopes to implement a program to reduce high school dropouts called "School is Cool."
This year, 27 of the 51 contestants wore "supersuits." Sixteen were white, the color worn to victory by several recent Miss Americas.
Friday's competition was the last of three nights of swimsuit, talent and evening gown rounds. The winners of the preliminary evening gown competitions are kept secret to heighten the suspense for the finals.
The preliminary competitions for the contestants are the first steps to the live nationally televised Miss America Pageant on Saturday.
The 10 women who have accumulated the most points in preliminary competitions and interviews with the judges will compete to succeed Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko.
In the preliminaries, talent counts for 50 percent, while the other 50 percent is divided among the swimsuit, evening gown and interview divisions.
After the first three nights, the total scores will determine the finalists, and those 10 then start again with a clean slate Saturday night.
At Wednesday night's preliminary competition, Miss Louisiana Valerie Brosset wore a white supersuit to win the swimsuit competition, and Miss Oklahoma Lori Lee Kelley sang an aria from "The Barber of Seville."
On Thursday night, the preliminary swimsuit competition was won by Miss Mississippi Carla Haag with a simple white swimsuit. Miss Minnesota Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson won the talent competition with a violin solo titled "Gypsy Airs."
The preliminary awards carry scholarships: $3,500 in the talent division and $2,500 in the swimsuit competition.