CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Augostina Mallous was a dancer for years, practicing five days a week. When she was in eighth grade, the Cape May Court House teen was accidentally kicked in the head during one of those practices.
“I kept dancing because I didn’t think it was that serious until I went to the hospital,” said Mallous, now 15.
It turned out she had a concussion that was first misdiagnosed, which led to a long recovery including eye therapy.
Now, she will use that experience, as well as her dancing, as the newly crowned Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen. Mallous, a sophomore at Middle Township High School, was crowned Saturday at Clayton High School, where she performed an acrobatic jazz dance to “Hit Me With a Hot Note.”
She won the crown in part with her platform, “Get Ahead of the Game: Concussion Awareness.”
“It is something that I’m passionate about it,” she said Thursday in a phone interview. “I try to stress that winning isn’t everything, so teenagers get treated and don’t have lifelong effects from concussions.”
The Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen program is the official preliminary to Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program and is the younger sister to the Miss America Competition. To win, Mallous scored well in a private interview with a panel of judges, competed in the fitness and gown categories and answered an on-stage question in addition to performing her talent.
Mallous began competing in pageants at the age of 11. This year, Mallous competed as Miss Atlantic Shores’ Outstanding Teen, along with 19 other local titleholders from all over the state, in her third time participating in the state teen pageant.
Mallous holds a 4.26 grade point average, and in the teen competition, scholastic achievement counts for ten percent of the final score.
The crown comes with an award of $3,250.00 in scholarships and a competition wardrobe valued at $4,000.00 sponsored by The Right Fit Dresses & Alterations, as well as personal training and nutritional counseling.
While it is a competition, many of the contestants are friends and competition day is a mix of work and play.
“I had the best day whether it was backstage listening to music talking about politics or boys,” Mallous said. “We had a great time.”
Mallous said she came into this year’s Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen competition prepared, but that she had an added reason to be nervous when it came to her talent. It was her first time on stage with a balancing cane, which involves poles and a board to balance on that she added to her jazz dance.
“I had nerves kicking in. I’ve never done them before onstage but I performed well and I thought I did my best in about every phase,” she said.
Mallous is also active in the community raising money for the national platform, Children’s Miracle Network, the “Dizzy Feet Foundation” and is a mentor in the Precious Gem mentoring program.
Current Miss New Jersey Brenna Weick was a Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen, and Mallous said she has always been a role model for her.
“I’ve always looked up to Brenna. I always think, ‘What would Brenna do?’” she said.
Now Mallous will be a role model through her new title.
Mallous will spend the next few weeks continuing to promote her platform while getting to know South Jersey during her reign.
A little known fact about her?
“I’m 100 percent Greek, so my heritage has affected my life, and that’s all I eat,” she said. “I have a weird obsession with goat cheese.”
Mallous will compete for the national title of Miss Outstanding Teen 2017 on June 25 to 27 in Orlando, Florida.