Pictured, from left, are the top five finishers in Sunday's Miss West Virginia Teen USA Pageant: third runner-up Leah Hinchee; firs runner-up Lakyn Campbell; 2021 Miss West Virginia Teen USA Briley Knotts; second runner-up Sarah Lojewski; and fourth runner-up Emily Grace Anderson.

Grafton High School grad crowned Miss W.Va. Teen USA; Upshur’s Cadence Ringer dubbed Miss Photogenic

BUCKHANNON – Sunday was Briley Knotts’s 18th birthday, but on July 11, she had something else to celebrate – earning the title of Miss West Virginia Teen USA.

Knotts, a 2021 Grafton High School graduate, went into pageant weekend Friday as a 17-year-old who held the title of Miss Three Rivers Festival USA, but she left Buckhannon on Sunday as an 18-year-old who had just been crowned the winner of the 2021 Miss West Virginia Teen USA Pageant.

First runner-up Lakyn Campbell and 2021 Miss W.Va. Teen USA Briley Knotts share a laugh as they wait for the winner to be announced.

The “Journey to the Crown,” produced by state pageant director Randy Sanders and Pageant Associates, took place over three days at West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts, and at the beginning, there were 18 contestants. Twenty minutes into the final show, the field narrowed to 10 contestants – including Upshur County’s own Cadence Ringer — and then after the evening gown presentation, just five young women remained.

As 2020 Miss West Virginia Teen USA Sophia Martino bid her reign goodbye and she and 2020 Miss West Virginia USA Charlotte Bellotte crowned Knotts and situated her sash, Knotts was filled with emotion, crying in utter disbelief, as she later described it.

“I have just worked so hard, and I have dreamed of this moment since I was a little girl,” Knotts said. Several days ago, she even found a letter in her memory box she had written to her future self when she was in fifth grade.

“At the bottom, it said, ‘P.S. Are you Miss West Virginia Teen USA yet?’” Knotts recalled, “and so I’m so proud to say I made my little self proud.”

The new Miss W.Va. Teen USA Briley Knotts can’t hold back tears as 2020 Miss W.Va. Teen USA Sophia Martino crowns her and 2020 Miss W.Va. USA Charlotte Bellotte adjusts her sash.

Knotts is headed to Fairmont State University in the fall, where she plans to study forensic science and business – and where she has secured a spot on their acrobatics and tumbling team, which is currently ranked in the top eight in the nation, she said.

Ringer represented Upshur County well, having entered the pageant as Miss Upshur County Teen USA. She earned a spot in the top 10 and was also dubbed Miss Photogenic in the ‘Teen’ field. Ringer thanked her pageant coach, Kari Park, as well as her friends and family for their support following Sunday’s final show.

“[I want to thank] my amazing coach who was extremely patient and helped me grown into what walked across that stage! Thank you, Kari Park!” Ringer wrote in a social media post. “I am extremely thankful for my family for encouraging me through the whole process and dealing with frustration, stress, and laughter! I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience! Even though I didn’t bring the crown home, I believe I made Upshur County very proud! Until next time! I’m coming for that crown!!!”

The top five finishers included first runner-up Lakyn Campbell, Miss Riverfest Teen USA; second runner-up Sarah Lojewski, Miss Morgantown Teen USA; third runner-up Leah Hinchee, Miss Weirton Teen USA; and fourth runner-up Emily Grace Anderson, Miss Calhoun County USA.

Upshur County’s Cadence Ringer, who earned a spot in the top 10 in Sunday’s Teen pageant, claimed the honor of ‘Miss Photogenic.’ She is pictured above during the evening gown portion of the competition Sunday.

Like 2021 Miss West Virginia USA Alexis Bland, Knotts is headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma to represent the Mountain State at the 2021 Miss Teen USA Pageant Nov. 26-29 in the Paradise Theater of the Muscogee Creek Nation’s River Spirit Casino Resort. She will also receive an annual $2,500 scholarship to Wesleyan and an all-expenses paid retreat at a resort somewhere in the U.S., among numerous other prizes.

Aside from the top five and Ringer, the Miss Teen W.Va. USA field was comprised of 12 additional contestants, including Emilee Begil – Miss Summers County Teen USA; Abigail Brown – Miss Mingo County Teen USA; NinaMae Coberly – Miss Sweetheart Festival Teen USA; Allison Dodson – Miss Jefferson County Teen USA; Delaney Duffy – Miss Sutton Fall Festival Teen USA; Kourtney Jones – Miss Randolph County Fair Teen USA; Kassidy Lane – Miss Buckhannon Teen USA; Laiah Lathon – Miss Harrison County Teen USA; Sarah Sizemore – Miss Delbarton Teen USA; Ally Spellman – Miss North Central WV Teen USA; Dakota Swiger – Miss Bridgeport Teen USA; and Jade Thompson – Miss Inwood Teen USA.

To read more about the results of the Miss W.Va. USA pageant, click here.

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