SALT LAKE CITY -- Kara Arnold, 22, who just completed her reign as Miss Davis County, was named Miss Utah on Saturday night at the Capitol Theater in her first attempt at the pageant.
"She will represent Utah very, very well," said Natalie Murray, a former director of the Miss Davis County pageant who now directs choreography for the contest.
"I believe she will be a strong contender at Miss America," she said.
Murray said there have been several Miss Davis County winners who have gone on to hold the title of Miss Utah in the past.
The most recent was Jill Stevens, Miss Utah 2007. Stevens was a former Miss Davis County at the time she won.
Murray said Arnold is a well-rounded and very smart young woman.
Utah title winners also traditionally do well at Miss America, Murray said, because the Miss Utah pageant has as many contestants each year as the Miss America pageant.
And Miss Davis County Director Steffani King, said the Davis County pageant is the largest preliminary pageant for the Miss Utah pageant in Utah.
"As Kara has proven, we are a force to be reckoned with," King said. "All of us are excited to go down in January and support Kara at Miss America."
Miss Utah Pageant officials said her reign will take her to every corner of the state and across the nation during her year of service as Miss Utah 2012.
She will travel several thousand miles each month, speaking to audiences about her platform, "Discover Your Potential -- Step Up With STEM (science, technology, engineering and math," serving as an ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and acting as the official spokesperson for the Child Protection Registry, an organization dedicated to protecting Utah families from adult-oriented solicitations via email, mobile phones, instant messenger and fax.
Arnold is the daughter of Jerry and Julie Arnold, of Bountiful.
As a senior biochemistry major at University of Utah, Arnold recently was accepted to the University of Utah Medical School.
Her career goal is to complete her education and work as a physician. Along with the title of Miss Utah 2012, Arnold won a $10,000 scholarship, a new car from Murdock Motors and housing for a year.
For the talent portion of the competition, Arnold played a classical piano piece, Ballad in G Minor, Op. 23, No. 1, by Chopin, and won a preliminary award for her performance. She was also given the award for academic excellence, an award sponsored and decided upon by the Miss America Organization.
The first runner-up was Miss Duchesne County, Brittani Reinhardt, who earned a $3,000 scholarship and won a preliminary award for lifestyle and fitness in swimwear earlier in the week.
Second runner-up honors and a $1,500 scholarship were awarded to Miss Pioneer Valley, Ciera Pekarcik.
Third runner-up was Miss Orem, Hannah Harkness, earning an $800 scholarship.
Fourth runner-up was Miss Pleasant Grove, Lea Wride, earning a $600 scholarship.
The five semifinalists rounding out the top ten and earning $600 scholarships were Miss Nebo, Rebecca Johnson; Miss Draper, Brooke Lavery; Miss Cache Valley, Lindsey Lopez; Miss Sandy, Vanessa Watson, and Miss Washington County, Krissia Beatty.
The Miracle Maker Award (sponsored by the Children's Miracle Network, the national platform of the Miss America Organization) was given to Miss Farmington, Jessica Francis.
Miss Pleasant Grove, Lea Wride, was given the Miss America Community Service Award and Miss Payson, Heather Marie Bolz, was named Miss Congeniality.