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Samantha Cole, right, reacts to being announced as Miss Door County 2013 as her sister Hannah, first runner-up, reaches to embrace her during the pageant Saturday night at Southern Door High School. / Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate

Before the name of Miss Door County 2013 was announced Saturday night at Southern Door Community Auditorium, Jerald and Holly Cole of Sturgeon Bay knew their daughter had won.

Samantha Cole, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, became the 17th young woman to hold the title of Miss Door County. Her sister, Hannah, was named first runner-up.

A roar went through the full house when the third semi-finalist, Brittany Hallet, a senior at Southern Door High School, was announced as second runner-up. The two sisters embraced and held both hands together.

Shirley Ehlers, executive director of the annual scholarship pageant, noted that the scene was reminiscent of the Miss Wisconsin 2010 competition, when former Miss Door Countys Kimberly and Katie Sawyer were the last women standing. Kimberly won the title and Katie was first runner-up.

"Let's not prolong this," Ehlers said and announced the result.

Samantha performed a flute sonata during the talent portion of the competition and said her platform as Miss Door County 2013 would be suicide prevention, in conjunction with the local non profit group Prevent Door County: The Nathan Wilson Coalition.

"I would like to work with the Nathan Wilson Coalition to go into all the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools to educate the children on suicide awareness and the warning signs, and how to seek help if they know someone or if they themselves are contemplating suicide," she said when asked to explain her platform during the on-stage question portion of the three-hour event.

The contestants were also judged based on a private interview with the judges and on their poise wearing evening wear and – in the traditional nod to the Miss America scholarship pageant's roots as a beauty pageant on the Atlantic City, N.J., shoreline – swim wear.

Samantha Cole's title comes with a $4,000 scholarship. As first runner-up Hannah was awarded a $2,000 scholarship, and Hallet earned a $1,000 scholarship.

The other four contestants – Cecelia Abshire, Rachel Andres, Brandi Hernandez and Samantha Paider – were each awarded $500 scholarships. The seven young women voted Abshire to be Miss Congeniality, which brings a $300 scholarship, and Samantha Cole earned another $300 for winning the evening wear portion of the night.

Finally, additional $100 scholarships were given to Abshire for best non-finalist interview and to Hernandez for best non-finalist talent performance, a solo sax rendition of Dave Brubeck's jazz classic "Take Five."

This year's pageant awarded $11,300 in scholarships, Ehlers said.

The title of Miss Door County's Outstanding Teen 2013 went to Abbigayle Grosbeier, a student at Southern Door High School and daughter of Tom and April Grosbeier. She sang the Kellie Pickler song "Tough" and ran on the platform "Step Up So Others Won't Be Stepped On."

The Outstanding Teen competition is for girls ages 13-17 and the qualifications are similar, except that instead of modeling swim wear the contestants perform a brief exercise routine wearing sports wear.

Miss Door County 2012 Zephyr Ciesar placed the tiara on Samantha Cole's head as her last official act.

"It was an incredible learning experience," Ciesar said of her year as Miss Door County and the chance to compete for Miss Wisconsin. "I'll hold it dear in my heart forever."

Hervy Hodges, morning announcer of WSRG-FM 97.7 The Big Dawg, served as host of the pageant.

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