New Miss Illinois ready for unique national competition

New Miss Illinois ready for unique national competition

CHAMPAIGN — No swimsuit competition? No problem.

Newly crowned Miss Illinois Grace Khachaturian said she's relying on years of experience with pageants — she's been competing since she was 11 — as she and the other Miss America contestants wait for final details about the contest in the wake of organizers' June 5 announcement that the swimsuit portion would be eliminated.

"We're at a standstill a little bit," Khachaturian said. "We trust the process since everyone's in the same boat, so we're in no rush. I'm still preparing health-wise and fitness-wise as if there was, so it's going to be a huge focus for me just because that's the way that I've always lived."

The 21-year-old University of Illinois journalism student visited Honda of Champaign on Tuesday to receive a Honda Civic to use in her travels during the year she reigns as Miss Illinois.

At the statewide competition, the Champaign native won the overall and preliminary talent portions.

"That was one of the aspects Miss Illinois Organization was super thankful for," Khachaturian said. "They wanted a young lady that was ready for Miss America, that could step right up and be ready and not change a lot. There's not a whole lot of time to change anything, and so we came into it ready, and they liked what we had."

Ahead of the national competition, Khachaturian said she will focus on practicing interviews while she waits for word on what will replace the swimsuit portion.

"I keep pinching myself. I don't want to wake up," she said. "We're waiting to hear what exactly the change is going to look like. As of now, we just know there's no swimsuit competition."

Khachaturian will compete for the title of Miss America 2019 beginning Sept. 5 in Atlantic City, N.J.

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