By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO August 5, 2003 There is a new Ms. Monticello Raceway.
Zerlinda Martinez, a 21-year-old Montgomery resident, was crowned the 2003 Ms. Monticello Raceway Sunday afternoon in the finals of the Ms. Monticello Raceway Beauty Pageant.
Along with the crown, sash and a dozen roses, Martinez received $5,000 from pageant sponsor Larry Roman. The first runner-up was Helene Robinson of Mountaindale, who received $1,500. Teresa Byrons of Montgomery was the second runner up and won $1,000.
Its amazing, Martinez said moments after winning the pageant. Its such an awesome feeling, Im shaking right now.
As has been the custom at past Ms. Monticello Raceway pageants, the winner was determined by crowd reaction. After the panel of judges narrowed the field of 10 finalists down to Martinez and Robinson, the crowd had a chance to cheer for each lady. It was determined that the cheers for Martinez were slightly louder, making her the new Ms. Monticello Raceway.
Martinez recently graduated from SUNY Albany with dual majors in Psychology and English. This is the first time she entered the Ms. Monticello Raceway pageant. She noted that she entered beauty pageants as a little girl, but became a tom-boy during her teenage years. She competed in track, cross country and softball in high school and earned a track and field scholarship to SUNY Albany.
She noted that her mother encouraged her to enter those pageants years ago and that she will be so happy when I call her and tell her I won.
She couldnt be here today, but I had several other members of my family here, Martinez said.
Martinez is excited to represent the raceway.
Its a great honor, she said. I look forward to whatever it entails.
Each of the seven other contestants who reached the finals received $100. Those ladies were: Katie Dowdell of Goshen, Amanda Earle of Warwick, Nicole Kissinger of Watervliet, Maria Manzo of Liberty, Denise Russo of Loch Sheldrake, Denise St. Lawrence of Goshen and Tarra Strauss of Woodbourne.
Martinez received her crown from outgoing Ms. Monticello Raceway Krystal Abrams.
It was exciting to be Ms. Monticello Raceway for 2002, Abrams said. It enabled me to explore more areas of my inner and outer beauty. It was a wonderful experience and I want to thank everyone at the raceway who made it possible.
Abrams was also one of the judges for Sundays pageant. The other judges were: Barry Didinsky, president of Somerset Mortgage Bank in Rock Hill; Bob Heyden, statistician/handicapper/historian at the Meadowlands; Rob Potter, sports editor of the Sullivan County Democrat; Guy Villari, former lead singer of The Regents, the 1950s doo wop group that made the song Barbara Ann a million seller and Ken Walters, associate editor of the racing periodical Sports Eye.
The semi-finalists who did not move on to the finals were: Melissa Banker of Newburgh, Rosaleen DAzzo of Honesdale, Pa., Amanda DeGroat of Woodridge, Kasey Decker of Bloomingburg, Caitlin Dunn of Port Jervis, Michele LaForge of New Windsor, Dair Melendez of Ellenville, Rebecca Meyer of Middletown, Nicole Michalek of Chester, Sarah Mytych of Purchase, Chakera Peart of Liberty, Julie Stackhouse of Monticello, Allissa Thompson of Durham, NC, Jennifer Trenholm of Fredonia, Heather Wood of Roscoe and Olga Zemstova of Scotchtown.