USC student Davia Bunch crowned Miss South Carolina, Saturday night

Miss SC 2017 Suzi Roberts and Miss SC Vice President Chaz Ellis help Bunch put on her new sash and crown. Allen Wallace photos.

For the second consecutive year, Miss South Carolina is a Gamecock.

Miss Spartanburg Davia Bunch became the 82nd winner of the scholarship competition. Bunch, 21, is a political science major at the University of South Carolina. She will represent the Palmetto State at the Miss America contest in September.

Bunch won a $40,000 scholarship along with the sash and crown in the competition Saturday at Columbia’s Township Auditorium. Miss Greater Greer Sydney Ford was first-runner-up, followed by Miss Clemson Sydney Sill, Miss River City Morgan Romano and Miss Columbia Alexandra Badgett.

Miss Clarendon Mikeya Murphy won the Congeniality Award, voted on by the contestants. Miss Orangeburg County Cadra Salley won the Pageant Spirit Award.

The 2018 competition marks the end of an era for Miss South Carolina. Next year, the organization will join all other Miss America-affiliated events in eliminating the swimsuit and evening gown elements with the goal of ensuring the contestants will no longer be judged on physical appearance.

Bunch will use her new role to promote her platform, an effort to raise awareness of the importance of donating bone marrow.

“I never thought I would belong in this community,” Bunch said through tears after the victory. “I lost my mom [to leukemia] when I was 15 and finding my purpose again was so hard. I found it through this organization.”

Supporting causes is a central part of the Miss America organization. This year’s Miss South Carolina contestants combined to raise more than $169,000 for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in the Palmetto State.

Patients past and present from those hospitals were recognized Saturday night with a song and dance performance from Miss South Carolina 2017 Suzi Roberts and Miss South Carolina Teen 2017 Ally McCaslin. A group of the children, known as Miracle Kids, then came on stage to a standing ovation, with Roberts carrying one of the little girls down the runway.

“I said when I was on this stage last year that I would serve the children of South Carolina,” Roberts said. “That’s what I’ve been doing and what I’ll do the rest of my life.”

Roberts, having passed the crown to Bunch, will go on to law school at Tulane and plans to use her law degree to expand her role as an advocate for children.

Bunch begins her Miss South Carolina journey by moving to preparations for her next competition. Asked what she was looking forward to most in the coming year, the newly crowned winner answered without hesitation: “Dancing on the Miss America stage.”

Photos by Allen Wallace: 

1. The top five: (l-r) Miss River City Morgan Romano , Miss Greater Greer Sydney Ford, Miss Spartanburg and Miss South Carolina 2018 Davia Bunch, Miss Clemson Sydney Sill, Miss Columbia Alexandra Badgett

2. Romano’s reaction to the big announcement.

3. Miss SC 2017 Suzi Roberts and Miss SC Vice President Chaz Ellis help Bunch put on her new sash and crown

4. Roberts with Congeniality Award winner Miss Clarendon Mikeya Murphy

5. Roberts with Spirit Award winner Miss Orangeburg County Cadra Salley

6. A standing ovation for the Miracle Kids

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Columbia, Richland County