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Miss Oklahoma is second runner-up in Miss America pageant

Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton has been impressing judges for years, and Saturday night on a national stage she was named second runner-up at the Miss America pageant at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
BY LINDA MILLER, For The Oklahoman Modified: January 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013

The pageant culminated a strenuous week of interviews and preliminary judging. Clifton won the talent competition on Tuesday, performing to “Money Can't Buy Me Love.” She repeated that routine Saturday evening after receiving the judges' third top score in the evening wear competition.

Clifton began dancing at 3 and competing at 5. She has won thousands of awards, including one gold and two silver medals at the World Dance Championships. She was the first American Dance Idol winner and holds Guinness World Records for the most consecutive pirouettes and the most fouettes in 30 seconds.

In an interview after her preliminary talent win, she said her mother encouraged her to continue practicing so she could become the best she could be. So she practiced her pirouettes.

“I love spinning,” she said.

Her father, Ron Clifton, said his daughter shines on stage. “She always has.”

Even with all her awards and accomplishments, she's a down-to-earth girl, he said. “It's just natural for her. She has this innate ability to win your heart.”

He said she has worked hard not only during her reign as Miss Oklahoma and during preparations for Miss America, but in the years leading up to the pageant.

She wanted to be able to say that she did everything she needed to do, he said.

“We are really, really proud,” her father said before he and his wife, Tammy, rushed backstage to give their daughter a big hug.

Alicia was planning to celebrate with a dinner of queso, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.