Miss Texas Shilah Phillips won the first of three talent contests and Miss Oklahoma Lauren Nelson the first of three swimsuit competitions in preliminaries for the 2007 Miss America pageant.
The televised finals will air Monday on cable’s Country Music Television, which moved the show from Saturday night in search of higher ratings.
In preliminary competitions, the 52 contestants are divided into three groups and take turns competing in evening wear, swimsuit and talent.
Preliminary scores count for 30 percent of overall scores, with the top 10 women participating in the finals Monday. The top 10 will be announced shortly after the pageant begins.
Phillips, a 25-year-old community college student from Plano, Texas, who once competed in “American Idol,” beat 16 others in the first round of the talent preliminary. Nelson, a 20-year-old college student from Lawton, Okla., won the first swimsuit round with her turn on the stage in a yellow bikini.
Preliminary competition concludes Saturday.
Mario Lopez of “Dancing With the Stars” will host Monday’s pageant. Judges include actress-choreographer Debbie Allen, MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews and singer Michael Feinstein.
Actress Delta Burke bowed out of her judging duties Thursday due to illness, pageant officials said.