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Gabrielle Sarmiento is Jr. Miss Highlands

SEBRING - "Her name is Gabby. She grew into her name."

Mothers are adept at summing up their daughters, and that's what Patrice Nelson imparted moments after Gabrielle Sarmiento was crowned the 2014 Jr. Miss Highlands County.

"She loves to make others smile," is how the 14-year-old from Walker Memorial Academy was introduced to Friday night's audience at Highlands County Fair.

Ashleigh Slager, 15, a freshman at Sebring High School, was voted first runner up and Miss Photogenic. She is the daughter of Tiffany and Ryan Magnuson. Each contestant was photographed, and Miss Photogenic was based on the final photo and how easily it was taken.

When Gabby met Ashleigh, "I thought, 'Oh, she's going to win.'" She was stunned when the 2013 winner, Kiersten Waldron, moved behind Gabby with the queen's crown.

Nicole Cunningham was second runner up and Miss Congeniality because she is the most pleasant and fun to be around. She is 15, a SHS sophomore, and the daughter of Deborah and Kevin Cunningham.

Kami LeeAnn McGrath was third runner up. She is 13, an Avon Park Middle School eighth grader and the daughter of Kari and Sam McGrath.

Cammie Lester, 14, was fourth runner up. An SHS freshman, she's the daughter of Mandy Elliott and David Lester.

The other contestants were Payton Kern, 12, Caroline Taylor, 13, Elizabeth Richardson, Olivia Gallo, 12, April Robinson, 12, and Aubrey Lanier, 12.

After taking a final walk around the stage with her father, Rev. Scott Waldron, Kiersten Waldron crowned the new queen.

The daughter of Fernando Sarmiento and a fan of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" movie and book, Gabby wants to be a writer.

"I know that's an odd job for a girl like me," Gabby said. However, one of her favorite hobbies is reading a good book.

At Walker Memorial Academy, she runs and plays tennis, basketball, piano, oboe and steel band.

Why did she enter the pageant?

"She is exporting the culture of Highlands County," her mother said. Gabby, who lives at Sun n' Lake of Sebring, wanted to get to know girls in other schools.

"I wanted to show other girls anything is possible through Jesus Christ," Gabby said."