Pageant veteran takes Miss Gwinnett crown

LAWRENCEVILLE - Ashley Gholamhosseini played Bach on the piano. Ashley Grant twirled her batons. And Katie O'Shea, well, Katie O'Shea did a traditional Irish folk dance, naturally.

There was a wide array of talents, and outfits, at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville on Saturday night, but only one contestant, Aundrea Poole, was able to bring home the title of Miss Gwinnett.

Poole, a 21-year-old student at Kennesaw State, topped eight other contestants to be the 2007 Miss Gwinnett winner.

"I'm very surprised," Poole said. "I've been competing in this pageant since I was a little girl, so it has really come full circle for me."

The Buford native received a $2,500 educational scholarship, an all-expense paid trip to the Miss Georgia pageant and a $700 wardrobe from the Miss Gwinnett County Scholarship Board, among other prizes donated by sponsors.

Poole said she has received close to $10,000 in scholarship money competing in pageants such as Miss Gwinnett.

Ashley Grant was named the pageant's first runner-up and received a $1,200 educational scholarship.

In total, the Miss Gwinnett pageant awarded $6,000 in scholarships to contestants.

Caitlin Andrews, Miss Gwinnett 2006, was passing off her crown on her 21st birthday. Andrews said being Miss Gwinnett and competing in Miss Georgia, where she was the third runner-up, has made for a great year.

"It was a great year, a lot of stress, but I came out better in the end," Andrews said.

The winners in the individual competitions were Poole (swimsuit, interview and evening wear) and Courtney Piedrahita (talent). Piedrahita played "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" on the violin.

More pageantry will be going on today for the younger girls, starting with the Wee Miss Gwinnett pageant at 1 p.m. and ending with the Teen Miss Gwinnett Pageant at 5:15 p.m.