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by Troy Graham
(Monday, June 29) Amy Townsend still can't believe it.
After watching the judges count down the top 10, then the top five and the runners-up, Townsend was shocked to find that "I was the last one standing."
On Sunday, the newly crowned Miss West Virginia and her parents were still in awe of the 22-year-old's victory on Saturday night.
"It hasn't even really hit me yet," said Townsend, a Colorado native.
"We're as stunned as she is about all this," said her father, Alan.
Townsend's mother, Barbara, even joked that she "found a gray hair this morning."
Not that any of them have had much time for reflection since Townsend received the crown from out-going Miss West Virginia Eisa Krushansky.
Since then, Townsend has gone through a whirlwind of paperwork, receptions and interviews that promises not to let up until she passes her crown on next year.
Throughout the year, Townsend will travel the state promoting her platform, St.A.R.T., Students and Athletes Reading Together. The program encourages children to read by bringing college athletes into the classroom.
It is an idea the sports management master's student hatched while working in the West Virginia University athletic department.
"The more you read, the better writer you become and the better communicator you become," she said.
Townsend is a big sports fan who would one day like to be an athletic director.
"I'm just fascinated by the business of college sports. Some of the rules, I think, are ridiculous, and some are very necessary," she said. "NCAA rules are constantly changing and I would like to be a part of that, to protect the athletes' interests."
Despite her love for sports and a competitive nature, Townsend describes herself as not very athletic, a blessing in disguise that turned her toward pageants as an outlet for her competitive spirit.
Townsend competed in her first pageant at age 17 while attending Billings West High School in Montana. She also competed in the Miss West Virginia pageant two years ago, but took last year off to concentrate on her studies.
Townsend, who has lived in Morgantown for six years and received a degree in journalism from the university in 1997, plans to finish her work for her master's in the fall semester.
In addition, she will work to promote the Red Cross' blood services program, a mandatory platform for Miss West Virginia 1998.
And, of course, she will compete in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City this fall, which has been a dream of hers since she was young.
"I've been watching it since I was little girl," she said. "I'm just happy to be going."