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Rob Potter | Democrat

New Ms. Monticello Raceway Amanda Lubniewski, center, smiled brightly moments after winning Sunday afternoon’s pageant. Joining Lubniewski as she acknowledged the crowd were, from left to right, second runner-up Courtney Neal, second runner-up Ashley Lellek, Ms. Monticello Raceway-2009 Christina Richichi and first runner-up Bridget Clark.

Amanda Lubniewski is named
Ms. Monticello Raceway-2010

By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO — July 23, 2010 — A total of 17 lovely ladies competed for the title of Ms. Monticello Raceway-2010 on Sunday afternoon in the 18th annual Ms. Monticello Raceway Beauty Pageant.
The ladies competed in swimsuit and evening gown competitions during the event held in conjunction with the program of 10 harness races.
Pageant sponsor and master of ceremonies Larry Roman noted that he wanted the new Ms. Monticello Raceway to have beauty and brains so he asked each of the contestants a question about topics in the news. For example, he asked the ladies how they felt about the late George M. Steinbrenner III, their opinion of universal health care and when they believe the U.S. military should leave Afghanistan.
When the scores of the six judges were tabulated, Amanda Lubniewski was named Ms. Monticello Raceway-2010. The 20-year-old Middletown resident was every excited to win the pageant.
“This is amazing,” Lubniewski said. “I am so honored to win. There are so many beautiful girls here. I feel like I’m dreaming and when I wake up the pageant will be tomorrow.”
Lubniewski graduated from Middletown High School in 2008. Next month, she will begin her junior year at the University of Buffalo, where she is double-majoring in Spanish and Early Childhood with a minor in Education.
Lubniewski said her career goal is to be a bilingual elementary school teacher.
As she made her way from the pageant stage to the winner’s circle to have a photo taken with one of the winning harness drivers, Lubniewski talked about how happy she was to win.
“Amazed, wonderful, excited – there aren’t enough adjectives to describe my feelings right now,” she said. “I guess the judges felt I answered the questions with poise and elegance. I just feel so honored.”
Lubniewski, who was one of the 12 finalists in last year’s Ms. Monticello Raceway pageant, said she enjoys the theatre and acted in dramatic plays and musicals while attending Middletown High School. She also likes community service and is active with Habitat For Humanity in the Buffalo area.
During the pageant, Roman happily surprised the contestants by announcing that he was increasing the cash prize for the winner from $3,500 to $5,000. He also gave all of the ladies $20 for answering the questions and $100 to each of the contestants who did not finish in the top three.
Lubniewski said she will use her $5,000 for school as she is paying for college by herself with loans.
Bridget Clark, 21, of Middletown, was chosen as the first runner-up and received $1,500. She attends Orange County Community College and her future ambitions include becoming a dental hygienist and holding a political office.
Ashley Lellek and Courtney Neal tied for the second runner-up honors. Lellek, an 18-year-old Pine Bush resident, and Neal, a 19-year-old Mountaindale resident, both received $1,000.
Lellek plans to attend Orange County Community College this fall and major in English. Her career goal is to be an English teacher.
Neal, who is a student at Penn State University, hopes to become an actuary for an insurance company.
Ms. Monticello Raceway-2009 Christina Richichi was on hand to help present flowers and trophies to Lubniewski, Clark, Lellek and Neal. Richichi also spoke about her year as Ms. Monticello Raceway.
“This past year has been amazing,” she said. “I had a lot of fun this year. Many wonderful things have happened since I became Ms. Monticello Raceway. It has been great.”
Among the wonderful things Richichi said she experienced during the past 12 months were graduating with honors from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh and finding a job in New York City.
In addition to Lubniewski, Clark, Lellek and Neal, the contestants in the pageant included: Jessica Alesandro, 19, of Middletown; Christina Beuchel, 24, of Wallkill; Samantha Bufalo, 21, of Pine Bush; Danielle Dwyer, 18, of Campbell Hall; Laila Gillies, 25, of Yonkers; Ashley Goff, 22, of Pine Bush; Stephanie Goins, 19, of Callicoon; Breeanna Little, 19, of Warwick; Sarah Martinez, 20, of Loch Sheldrake; Pollyanna Palhano, 20, of Monticello; Arielle Parker, 23, of Monticello; Kerri Sheridan, 20, of Woodbourne and Tara Taylor, 22, of Grahamsville.
The judges for the pageant were: Richichi; Mike Gonzalez, database manager at Monticello Casino & Raceway; Chris Ingram, DJ and radio personality from 95.9 WVOS-FM in Monticello; Sullivan County Democrat Sports Editor Rob Potter; Steve Restano, radio personality from “The Bop Shop” on 95.9 WVOS-FM in Monticello and Arthur Robinson, a longtime mutuel clerk and assistant photo finish developer at Monticello Raceway.

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