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Partridge poised for run at Miss America crown

Miss Washington Devanni Partridge is only the second woman from Auburn to win the state crown. She will compete against 52 other contestants for the Miss America title next week. - Courtesy photo/Bob Johnson
Miss Washington Devanni Partridge is only the second woman from Auburn to win the state crown. She will compete against 52 other contestants for the Miss America title next week.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Bob Johnson

A younger Devanni Partridge would watch the Miss America Pageant in wonder.

"It was really cool, but something I thought was out of reach," said Partridge, the reigning Miss Washington, and only the second woman to wear the state crown from Auburn.

Little did Partridge know she would walk down the brightly-lit national stage one day. The 21-year-old former Miss Auburn will get that chance when she competes against 52 other contestants for the coveted tiara in Las Vegas, Nev., next week.

Partridge, 21, daughter of John and Shirlee Partridge, left for Las Vegas on Wednesday to begin preparations for the Miss America Pageant. The contestants converged officially at an arrival ceremony Thursday. This weekend will include rehearsals, appearances, fashion shows and other activities.

Next week will be filled with formal interviews on Monday, followed by three days of preliminary competition, an off-day Friday to regroup and culminating in the nationally televised finals on Jan. 30 (5 p.m., The Learning Channel) at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Partridge will be accompanied by her parents and her guide, Peggy Miller, executive director of the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization.

Following a whirlwind tour of duty as Miss Washington, Partridge is eager to compete. Since she won the state crown last July, Partridge has worked tirelessly on behalf of two platforms – her own for “Donate Life: The Importance of Organ and Tissue Donation”, the other for the Miss Washington state crusade that supports the Children’s Miracle Network.

Now, the focus shifts to the Miss America prize.

"It's been emotional and very busy," said Partridge, an Auburn High School graduate and Western Washington University pre-med senior student majoring in kinesiology. She is interested in pursuing a career in chiropractic care and physical therapy. "I'm really excited. This is something I've been working toward for such a long time. I'm ready for it to happen."

Partridge, a classically-trained pianist, will perform Malagueña, a classic Spanish flamingo folk piece. She is allowed 90 seconds to play it during the talent portion of the program.

"I chose it because I think the audience will be engaged with it. It's passionate," Partridge said.

The support from family and friends has made the journey rewarding and enjoyable. That encouragement has enabled Partridge to focus more on having fun than being consumed by the intensity of the pageant.

"My family is good about reminding me of that … and not get lost in the competition," Partridge said. "They remind me just to have a good time."

Partridge likes her chances.

"I feel strong, very confident that we're all on a level playing field," she said. "Whatever happens, it was meant to happen. It will be a great (experience) in the long run."

For Partridge, who has been competing in pageants since she was 18, winning the Miss Washington title has been gratifying. To reach the Miss America stage is something she never really imagined – until now.

"To compete for the title of Miss America seems so surreal to me," she said. "It's so prestigious. It just overwhelms me."

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