Mackenzie Wenrick literally kicked her way through the Centre County Outstanding Young Woman contest — and came out on top.
The scholarship program is held annually to honor Centre County’s outstanding high school senior girls. It recognizes, awards and encourages excellence while promoting self-esteem among the young women, according to the program website. It was formerly known as the Junior Miss contest.
Wenrick, a 17-year-old Penns Valley Area High School senior from Woodward, performed a unique piece for the talent portion of the contest.
The other 12 contestants performed song-and-dance numbers, but Wenrick choreographed a martial arts dramatization to a mix of songs.
She has been involved in tang soo do for seven years and has a second-degree black belt. Tang Soo doo is a Korean style of martial arts.
“It was just something I put together with basic forms and used the music to highlight the creativity performance,” Wenrick said.
And that was one of the talents that sent Wenrick to the top.
Wenrick applied to the program in the spring and went through a series of preliminaries that showcased the contestants’ interview skills, creativity and academic achievement.
Throughout the summer, she participated in festivals and fairs, and went through interview workshops that helped prepare her for the final round Sept. 13 at Bellefonte Area High School, where she was announced the winner.
The contestants were judged in five categories.
“It was a really healthy competition,” Wenrick said. “You got to know the other girls and work with each other because we were all shooting for the same goal. They were all so talented so we learned a lot from each other.”
Wenrick won a general $2,500 scholarship in addition to three individual scholarships for ranking first in the fitness, creative performance and scholastic achievement categories.
“It just means a lot,” Wenrick said. “I thought the program was going to be about the money until I got really invested in it and found out it was so much more than that. … I learned the biggest thing was feeling comfortable in front of others.”
Wenrick hasn’t picked a college to attend just yet, but she said she hopes to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.
For now, she will be the face of the program, attend board meetings, help plan next year’s event and recruit girls.
The other contestants were Anna Pearl Belinda, Annmarie Biss, Rebecca Cobes, Megan Duck, Katherine Gairloch, Alyssa Hamaty, Katie Heckman, Cassidy Houtz, Laura Kerns, Allison Lightner, Nicki Leiby and Olivia Lusk.