Amanda Cox 2014 Distinguished Young Woman

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By Geoff Hamill

No one envied the judges' task of choosing a winner in the Distinguished Young Women competition Saturday night at the Washington County High School Auditorium. A difficult task, indeed, but the panel selected a Tablow Road resident to represent the county during the upcoming year.

Amanda Brett Cox is the 2014 Distinguished Young Woman of Washington County.

Six judges evaluated 14 contestants in a variety of areas, including scholastics, interview, talent, self-expression and fitness. In addition to the overall award, Cox took home an interview award and a preliminary scholastic award. During the talent demonstration, she impressed the judges with a piano recital of “Deep River.”

Cox said she was shocked when the master of ceremonies announced her name.

“Overwhelmed – I feel like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and have to do it all over again,” she said. “I mean, when they said my name, I was just in total shock for a minute. I really was not expecting it. It was a true surprise. I feel so happy right now.”

The winner is the daughter of Phillip and Chrystal Cox. Her interests include golf, church and school clubs. She plans to attend Lindsey Wilson College to pursue a degree in neonatal nursing.

Along with her title, Cox will receive up to $14,000 in college scholarships. 2013 Distinguished Young Woman Beth Purdom presented Cox with a medallion, a large silver tray and a bouquet of flowers. As the 2014 Distinguished Young Woman of Washington County, Cox is eligible to compete in the state competition in Lexington next spring.

Kelli Wharton, daughter of Steve and Susan Wharton, of Springfield, is the first runner-up. Wharton won a talent award for an impressive piano recital and also won the spirit award. The high school senior plans to attend Cincinnati Art Institute and study digital photography and interior design.

Second runner-up Mackenzie Messer is the overall scholastic winner. Messer, the daughter of Tim and Rita Messer, plans to study physical therapy at the University of Kentucky or Eastern Kentucky University.

Third runner-up Emilee Graves won a talent award for her vocal solo of “God Help The Outcast.” Graves, the daughter of Tim and Lori Graves, plans to study agriculture at Western Kentucky University.

Other award winners are: Morgan Mann, interview award; Madelyn Abell, self-expression award; Taylor Blandford, self-expression award and Olivia Goatley, fitness award.

Distinguished Young Women, formerly America’s Junior Miss, was founded in 1958. It is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. More than 700,000 young women across the country have competed in the program, which has distributed more than $93 million in cash scholarships at the local, state and national levels.