EOU student places second runnerup at Miss Oregon USA

By Dick Mason, The Observer November 28, 2012 01:59 pm

High finish caps months of intense preparation

Physical conditioning, study and 400 weekly questions — all are part of a recipe for success at the Miss Oregon USA pageant.

At least this preparation regime proved to be a recipe for a high finish last weekend for Tarah Land, a senior at Eastern Oregon University. Land, 20, was second runner-up at the Miss Oregon USA Pageant in Portland. She was the third highest finisher among 15 finalists and the youngest in the top five. 

The high finish capped six months of intense preparation by Land.

 “It (placing in the top three) was a great feeling of satisfaction because it meant all of my hard work basically paid off,’’ Land said.

Contestants were evaluated on how well they did in interviews, answering a question on stage and how they fared in the evening gown and swimsuit events.  

Land was well prepared for almost any interview or stage question thanks to the help of those who assisted her in preparing. Over the past six months, Land’s friends and family have been peppering her with up to 400 questions a week, all of the type pageant contestants could expect to be asked. Land was prepared for queries about world affairs, what she would do with her title if she won, what she would like to do to make the world a better place and much more. 

Land was a little disappointed with the questions she received at the pageant.

“All of the questions were about me,’’ Land said. 

Contestants received just one on-stage question. Land was asked about the best advice she ever received. Land told the judges, in essence, “Follow your heart. You only live once so enjoy it.’’

Land, who grew up in Centralia, Wash., said she found the evening gown competition the most challenging.

“You have to be elegant and show personality. It’s a balancing act.’’

Land enjoyed herself at the pageant but found the experience anything but relaxing.

“It was crazy and hectic. You are nervous and excited at the same time. It was super fun and I learned so much.’’

The work Land did getting ready for the pageant, in addition to preparing answers for potential questions, included an exercise routine. Land ran about three miles a day and did weight workouts as part of her conditioning regime.

 Land, the daughter of Sherry and Jon Land of Centralia, said she owes a big part of her success at the pageant to help from her friends and family and her sponsor, Titus-Will Chevy auto dealership of Olympia, Wash. 

Land will graduate from EOU in June with a degree in psychology. She received a head start on earning her degree in high school where she took classes that provided her with credits from Centralia Community College. Land earned 90 community college credits in high school.

This enabled her to graduate with an associates degree from Centralia Community College at the same time she was receiving her high school diploma. 

“I attended my community college graduation ceremony the same day I went to my high school commencement.’’ 

After graduating from Eastern, Land plans to earn a master’s and later a doctorate degree in psychology or political science. 

Land plans to enter the Miss Oregon Pageant again in 2013. The experience she gained last weekend plus the additional time she will spend getting ready will boost her chances of topping last weekend’s second runner-up finish, she said. 

“I’m starting my preparation today,’’ Land said.

The Miss Oregon USA Pageant last weekend was won by Gabrielle Neilan of Gresham. Neilan will represent Oregon at the Miss USA Pageant in 2013. The national winner will represent the United States at the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant.