OCEAN CITY — Millville's Ashleigh Udalovas won the Miss New Jersey title Saturday night in her second run for the crown.
Udalovas, a 22-year-old Rowan University student competing as Miss All-State, was first runner-up last year. Besides winning the crown Saturday at the Ocean City Music Pier, she also won several smaller accolades, including the interview award and the Miss America Organization Academic Award for $1,000.
Her platform is "Read to Succeed: Improving America's Future Through Literacy," and she founded the Cumberland County chapter of First Book, which gives books to financially disadvantaged children.
During the interview portion, Udalovas said her lifetime goal is to visit all 50 states - she has visited 38 so far, but she jokingly told the interviewer not to ask her to name all of them. She also said her secret wish is to be a cake designer and that she wants to compete on the reality TV show "Dancing with the Stars."
During the talent portion of the competition, she tap-danced to the "Pink Panther" theme song.
The evening began with introductions by all 27 contestants. Normally, 10 finalists are named, but a tie resulted in a Top 11.
Southern New Jersey residents made a strong showing. Finalists included Miss Atlantic County Lindsey Petrosh, 21, of Egg Harbor City; Miss Cape May County Brandi Sanguinetti, 21, of North Wildwood; Miss Gloucester County Kaitlin Davis, 23, of Millville; and Miss Coastal Shore Brianna Durand, 23, of the Milmay section of Buena Vista Township.
On hand was reigning Miss New Jersey Ashley Shaffer, of Millstone Township, Monmouth County, who represented the state at the Miss America pageant earlier this year. She told contestants how she felt after winning.
"The next day, ... they'll probably freak out and have a panic attack like I did," Shaffer said.
The winner will compete in the Miss America pageant Jan. 15. The Miss America Organization announced in May that it signed a three-year deal to air the pageant on ABC, which previously broadcasted the competition until 2004. The network dropped the contest after low ratings, but it was picked up by cable networks CMT and TLC.
The pageant was founded in Atlantic City in 1921 but moved to Las Vegas in 2006.
Contact Erik Ortiz: