Amanda Enz is familiar with wearing a crown and carrying some responsibility.
Six years ago, the Rainier Middle School eighth-grader danced delightfully and smiled brightly with braces to capture Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen tiara.
A year ago, Enz shone as first runner-up to Whitney Van Vleet for the Miss Auburn title.
On Saturday night, a composed and confident Enz returned to center stage at the Auburn Performing Arts Center, this time topping a field of six challengers to take the prestigious crown and all the accolades that come with it.
Enz is the first candidate to do the Auburn pageant double – Teen and Miss crowns – since the sister program for younger girls was added to the well-established scholarship program in 2010.
“That’s what I heard. I’m so excited. I love it,” an emotional Enz said of completing the sweep while receiving hugs and congratulations from family and friends after her coronation. “I just love the city of Auburn. I grew up here. It’s been my home since I was a baby, and I’m really excited to represent the city with his title.”
Enz, 20, an Auburn Mountainview High School graduate and a sophomore at Pacific Lutheran University, won more than $5,000 in awards, gifts and scholarships and automatically qualifies for the Miss Washington Pageant later this year. The Miss Auburn program, which celebrates its 57th year, is one of the largest events of its kind in the country and serves as an official preliminary to the Miss Washington and Miss America scholarship pageants.
Austin Douglas, of Lakewood, won Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen crown, the judges’ choice, from a field of five contestants.
For Enz, it was her finest hour. She came back stronger this year, a contender for the top prize after falling short last January.
“Maturity,” she said of what primarily made the difference this time around. “Last year was a transition year in my life … kind of like childhood to adulthood. I just wasn’t ready for the roles of the title yet, but now I’m really ready to do all that this job demands of me.”
Enz wowed the crowd with her acrobatic jazz dance to the music of “For You,” an upbeat song recorded by English singers Liam Payne and Rita Ora.
“I’ve been dancing since I was old enough (to walk),” said Enz, who has blossomed in her years with the Auburn Dance Academy. “I want to dance for the rest of my life. That’s the goal, whether that’s through teaching, taking classes or (performing) on some sort of professional stage.”
Enz has big plans. She is pursuing a degree in business, with an emphasis on marketing, at PLU. She wants to serve her community, perhaps work for a nonprofit organization.
Enz, the daughter of Derek and Kim Enz, competed on the social impact statement: stress less, helping teens cope with stress and anxiety. Molen Orthodontics sponsored her run for the title. Her Little Sisters are Hailey Buchanan and Madison Dracobly.
Natalie Myers, an Olympic College student, was first runner-up, and Lacey Edwards, a Running Start student at Green River College, was second runner-up.
Douglas, 15, a freshman at Bellarmine Prep, prevailed on a night in which she sang a wonderful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“I was very surprised,” she said of winning the pageant. “I did not think I was going to win going into this, so I am just overjoyed.”
Douglas ran on the platform, strong against cancer, inspired by her younger sister, Alexis, who was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer, when she was 2 months old. Alexis is doing well today and represents the program as a Miss Auburn Ambassador.
“It shaped my life in multiple ways, and it has really given me a passion to go into the medical (field) and help more children like her,” Douglas said of her sister’s comeback.
Douglas won more than $1,500 in awards, gifts and scholarships and automatic entry into the Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen Pageant later this year. She follows 2018 Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen Olivia Thomas.
Douglas, daughter of Jill and JB Douglas, was sponsored by Scotty’s General Construction, Inc. Her Little Sister is Vani Morton.
Kaitlyn Gallo, a Rainier Middle School student, was first runner-up.
Tribute to Debbie
The scholarship program honored the late Debbie Matejka for her outstanding volunteerism. Matejka, who died last year at the age of 69, served on the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program board for more than 20 years, fulfilling a variety of roles.
Matejka’s family was on hand to receive the award from Tamie Bothell, president and executive director of the Miss Auburn program.
“Debbie was so much fun … always the life of the party,” Bothell said. “She was the first to volunteer for any task … the first to volunteer to bake anything … and the first to open up her purse and have everybody’s favorite treat readily available.”
Mayor Nancy Backus, the emcee for Saturday’s program, added:
“She was probably the very first person that you met. She was our recruiter extraordinaire. She would go to every high school. She would go to Green River College,” Backus said. “She would work so hard to share the mission and the values of this (program) statement to get these young ladies to sign up, knowing that the scholarship dollars were going to help them beyond what they probably realized.”
Amanda Enz’s sister, Elizabeth, was the 2017 Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen. … Auburn’s pageant winners have done well at the state level. Van Vleet and Thomas finished in the top 10 at last year’s Miss Washington and Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen competitions. … The Kent-based Allegro Performing Arts Academy Dancers performed for the audience. … Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen candidates were scored and judged the following way: private interview, 25 percent; lifestyle and fitness, 15 percent; talent 35 percent; evening wear/on-stage interview 25 percent. Miss Auburn candidates were judged: private interview, 25 percent; lifestyle and fitness, 10 percent; talent 30 percent; evening wear, 10 percent; on-stage interview 25 percent. … For more information, visit missauburn.org.