Kaitlin O’Neill, whose hometown is Groton, was crowned Miss South Dakota 2021 Saturday night. In addition to her scholarship of $8,000 for winning the competition, O’Neill was a preliminary talent winner Thursday evening ($1,000), and on-stage interview winner on Friday ($500.) She was also the overall interview winner ($500) and took home the state community service Award ($1,000).
O’Neill’s platform is “Bloom - Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy You.” Her talent was a contemporary ballet to Bad Guy by Eklipse. She is the daughter of Robin O’Neill and Steve O’Neill and competed as Miss Dakota Plains. O’Neill graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato, with majors in dance and marketing.
First runner-up was Hunter Widvey of Rapid City, garnering a $4,000 scholarship. Widvey also won the $1,000 preliminary talent award Friday night.
Second runner-up was Annie Woodmansey of Pierre. In addition to her scholarship award of $2,000, she received the Quality of Life scholarship and the Sylvia Tannehill Kindness scholarship, each for $1,000.
Third runner-up was Miranda O’Brian, taking home a scholarship of $1,500, in addition to the $500 award for preliminary on-stage interview and social initiative pitch on Thursday.
Fourth runner-up and winner of a $1,200 scholarship was Margaret Samp, Sioux Falls. In addition, she received the Ray Peterson “Rookie of the Year” award of $500 for being the top-placing first-time candidate.
Rounding out the top eight semi-finalists and receiving $1000 scholarships were Carly Goodhart of Sisseton, who also won a $750 STEM Scholarship, Sylvie Larson of Harrisburg, and Maleah Eschembaum of Aberdeen.
Courtney Remick of Prior Lake, Minnesota won the most talented non-semi-finalist ($300 scholarship) as well as a $750 STEM Scholarship. Emma Salzwedel of Sioux Falls was voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants ($500 scholarship). Baylee Dittman had the top interview for a non-semi-finalist ($300 scholarship).
Fifteen women from across the state competed for the title. All won scholarships, totalling nearly $35,000.
Kaitlin O’Neill will compete at the Miss America Pageant at the Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut, December 2021.