CRYSTAL LAKE – A former Miss Crystal Lake winner has earned a second chance to compete for Miss Illinois.
Kogan Murphy was crowned Miss Gold Coast on Sunday, qualifying her to compete for Miss Illinois in June. The Miss Illinois winner will then go on to compete for Miss America.
"It was really exciting," Murphy said of the win. "Now I'm preparing myself for Miss Illinois."
This will be the 19-year-old Crystal Lake South graduate's second shot at the state crown. She qualified last year when she won Miss Chain O' Lakes.
"Last year was a learning experience," she said. "I was new to the organization. With every pageant you learn more. This year is different because I have a better idea of what I'm doing."
Murphy, who currently is participating in the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet training program in Chicago, began dancing when she was two years old. She got her start at the Judith Svalander School of Ballet in Crystal Lake, and she will rely on her dancing ability for the talent portion of the Miss Illinois competition.
"The talent category is my strongest point," Murphy said. "I've been dancing for 18 years."
Contestants are also judged on their evening gown, swimsuit and interview skills.
Each contestant is also required to have a "platform" that they are passionate about. Murphy's platform is the fight against bullying, which she has experienced first-hand.
"I was bullied a little bit growing up," she said. "I decided to turn it into a positive and help others."
Murphy said she has traveled to schools and churches to spread her anti-bullying message, and she plans to meet with other Chicago-area schools later in the year.
With a year of pageant experience under her belt and her extensive dance training, Murphy has high expectations for Miss Illinois.
"I'm feeling pretty confident," she said.