Allison Kaatz went superhero.

It was posing like a superhero before the Miss Ludington Area Scholarship Program Sunday afternoon that helped to quell the nerves and for her to be named Miss Ludington Area 2022 at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts.

“I was terrified. I was shaking, completely,” Kaatz said of preparing for the day. “This whole day, I’ve been shaking. I didn’t end up eating lunch… I was so nervous.

“I remember before I went into the interview, I was like, you have got this. You have the confidence. You can do it. This is something you can do. I see myself as Miss America, and that’s the first step is seeing yourself as that person.

“And then, you walk into it… You give yourself a talk. I do a superhero pose, actually… It’s supposed to build your confidence up. You hold it for a second, and then I walked in and I was ready. I think that was what really helped.”

Kaatz was one of six young women vying for the crown. She was a candidate along with Arianna Smith, Alana Calhoun, Jordan Goodman, Natalee Urbon and Mallory Wietrzykowski.

Once Kaatz’s name was called as Miss Ludington Area 2022, she couldn’t contain her emotions.

“I was in complete shock. It’s such an honor to represent our community,” she said. “I was in complete shock. It’s such a surreal experience, and I was so ready to make a change in the community.

“I was filled with joy, and I just started crying. It’s so exciting to have this position.”

The performance hall was packed with well-wishers for each of the six women pursuing the title. It let out applause and cheers when Kaatz was named the honoree.

For winning Miss Ludington Area, Kaatz will represent the area in the Miss Michigan program in 2022, with a chance at Miss America. She also received a semester of schooling at West Shore Community College, the $1,000 Susie Brillhart Memorial Scholarship, portraits courtesy of Photography by Sue Brown, as well as the crown, sash and flowers.

Kaatz’s social impact initiative is about gaining confidence, and part of her platform is appreciating oneself as a person is.

Beyond Miss Ludington Area, five titles were awarded before naming the top prize.

Wietrzykowski was named the first runner-up, and she received a $500 scholarship and flowers. Wietrzykowski also earned the People’s Choice Award. The People’s Choice Award was chosen by a vote of those who attended the event and placed in boxes set up by the respective candidates.

Kaatz also won the Talent Award, an $1,000 scholarship. She performed a dance routine for the judges during the talent portion of the program.

During the talent portion, Smith sang while Urbon performed a jazz contemporary dance routine. Wietrzykowski played an alto saxophone. Goodman did a fitness routine set to music, too. Calhoun quickly did a cooking performance, showing those in attendance how to eat healthy on a budget with a veggie burger.

Winning the Community Service Award was Calhoun, and she received a $250 scholarship. It was chosen based on the essays written by each of the candidates.

Urbon was named Miss Congeniality. She was chosen by her fellow candidates as the person who showed the most warmth and friendship to the other candidates.

Each of the six candidates had a private interview with the five judges before the program Sunday afternoon. The judges were Todd Reed, Sarah Helge, Patti Skinner, Chris Nicholas and Julie Sherlock. After an introduction of the candidates, each was asked a single question by one of the judges before quickly discussing their respective social impact initiatives.

Shamel served for the past two years because of COVID-19.

“Honestly, it’s been such a blessing. I count it as another year of growth and service to this organization,” she said as the candidates were preparing for their respective interviews.

Shamel was thankful, too, for the experience she had in the program. After thanking the community, she had to collect herself as she thanked her mom.

“You put in lots of hours and love, and you deserve an award,” she said.

The event was emceed by Staci Palma Collins, the 1978 Miss Ludington Area. She was one of five former Miss Ludington Area winners to be present for the program.

Kaatz is ready for what lies ahead as she represents the community as Miss Ludington Area 2022.

“I’m so excited. I’m a senior, so I was already excited for this year. But now, it’s even more exciting,” she said. “I really do believe one person can change the world, and I think there’s a lot we need to work on.

“I’m so excited to do this.”

The Managing Editor for the Ludington Daily News since June 2018 and on the staff since Oct. 2011, taking over for legendary Lloyd Wallace. Previously with The Chippewa Herald in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the Tuscola County Advertiser in Caro.

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