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Mitchell native named Miss South Dakota

After placing first-runner up two years in a row, Tessa Dee can finally call herself Miss South Dakota USA. The 25-year-old Mitchell native was crowned the 2017 Miss South Dakota USA on Sunday night during a pageant held at Brandon Valley Perform...

Tessa Dee, of Mitchell, was named Miss South Dakota USA on Sunday night. She will go on to compete in the Miss USA competition sometime next year. (Photo courtesy of Future Productions)
Tessa Dee, of Mitchell, was named Miss South Dakota USA on Sunday night. She will go on to compete in the Miss USA competition sometime next year. (Photo courtesy of Future Productions)

After placing first-runner up two years in a row, Tessa Dee can finally call herself Miss South Dakota USA.

The 25-year-old Mitchell native was crowned the 2017 Miss South Dakota USA on Sunday night during a pageant held at Brandon Valley Performing Arts Center.

This is her third year competing in the pageant and after two years of watching her competitors take the crown, she can finally claim it for her own.

"This year I worked really hard and covered all of my bases and was crowned Miss South Dakota USA. It feels great," Dee said Monday. "It shows that if you persevere through the tough times and work hard and truly believe in yourself and your dreams, you can make it happen. I'm a testament to that."

This is not Dee's first crown. She was given the honor of Miss South Dakota through the Miss America program in 2013.

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Miss USA, which is what Dee moves on to compete for, began in 1952 and all of the pageant winners has "USA" in their titles. If they don't, they are with the Miss America pageant, which began in the 1920s. The Miss Universe Organization produces Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe. The Miss America pageant is run by a non profit group in New Jersey.

The Miss America Pageant also has contestants present a talent, such as singing or dancing. Miss USA does not.

As a graduate of Mitchell High School in 2009, Dee went on to get a bachelor's and master's degree at the University of South Dakota. Her first degree was in health science, while her master's degree, which she just completed in May, was in health science.

Dee will be spending the next year traveling and making appearances for the Miss South Dakota USA organization, dedicating much of her time and energy to preparing for Miss USA. But Dee, who is currently living in Mitchell, also plans to advance professionally, not making the entire next year just about the Miss USA pageant.

During the interview portion of the pageant, Dee was asked about her hometown of Mitchell.

"Of course, I had to give a shout out to the Corn Palace and (the panelists) were all very interested and wanted to know more about it," she said.

The panelists of judges included professionals from South Dakota and across the country, Dee said.

The competition consists of three segments: evening gown, swimwear/active wear and interview. Contestants must be between the ages of 14 and 27 and be unmarried residents of South Dakota in order to compete in the pageant.

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"I think the most difficult is always the interview because you want to say the right thing and you want to come across as somebody who can hold the title ... " Dee said. "You have to be able model a swimsuit and sit down with professionals and have an educated conversation."

Dee has made it her goal to make history in the upcoming Miss USA pageant, which will be televised on FOX next year. The dates are still undetermined.

Dee said last year was the first time in history that a Miss South Dakota contestant made the top 10. But she plans to make even more history.

"I'd like to take that one step further," Dee said.

It's been nearly 10 years since a Mitchell native claimed the Miss South Dakota title. The last time was in 2008 with Charlie Buhler.

Dee said it will be a great honor to be on the national stage representing South Dakota, but also Mitchell. As she's introduced at the national competition, Dee said she will be able to state her hometown "in front of the world."

"I've been so lucky to be from Mitchell," Dee said. "I can't think of a town I'd rather be from in this state."

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Tessa Dee, of Mitchell, reacts as she was crowned Miss South Dakota USA on Sunday night. She will go on to compete in the Miss USA competition sometime next year. (Photo courtesy of Future Productions)
Tessa Dee, of Mitchell, reacts as she was crowned Miss South Dakota USA on Sunday night. She will go on to compete in the Miss USA competition sometime next year. (Photo courtesy of Future Productions)

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