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Wadena crowns its 2009 pageant royalty

Cassondra Behl's face erupts into a radiant smile after being crowned Miss Wadena 2009 by Miss Wadena 2008 Cassandra Popp.1 / 13
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Cassondra Behl was crowned Miss Wadena 2009 Sunday night. Second Princess was Mary McGrane, right.3 / 13
Kristen Rokenbrodt strikes a pose in her toga during the group number "Venus." "It's All Greek to Me" was the pageant theme.4 / 13
Emily Ament shows her casual wear outfit.5 / 13
Little Attendant Teagan Roberts walks across the stage.6 / 13
Little Attendant Mikayla St. Marie is pretty in yellow.7 / 13
Brittany Anderson gives a speech called "King of the Jungle."8 / 13
Mary McGrane performs a modern dance to "You and Me," by Lifehouse during the talent competition.9 / 13
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Second Princess Mary McGrane accepts a bouquet of flowers from 2008 Little Attendant Kennedy Gravelle.11 / 13
Kristen Rokenbrodt accepts a hug from Miss Wadena 2008 Cassandra Popp after being awarded First Princess at the pageant Sunday night in Memorial Auditorium.12 / 13
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Cassondra Behl knew she was capable of winning the 2009 Miss Wadena pageant, but it was still a shock when the tiara was placed on her carefully coiffed curls.

"I couldn't believe that I actually won," the petite 17-year-old said the Monday after her big win.

Behl recalled the moment she heard that, yes, she gets to wear the name of her town as her title for the next year.

"At first I was thinking 'Yes! Yes!,'" she recalled. "And then I was like 'don't get overdramatic, Cassie.'" She wanted to keep her


Behl just finished her junior year at Wadena-Deer Creek High School. She loves hockey, hunting, fishing, going to the lake, sitting around bonfires and riding her horse.

A cowboy hat she included with her casual wear outfit of a white skirt, brown top and tied leather belt gave a nod to her horseback riding interests.

Joining the pageant was a confidence builder for her, she said.

"I try to step out of my zone as much as I can to get new experiences," Behl said.

The $1,000 scholarship was also a big motivator for Behl like it is for all the girls, she said. Everyone who participates in the pageant deserves a big pat on the back, she said. Public speaking is one of the hardest things to do.

"It's just us on the big stage," she said. "Not to mention that there's judges watching us and the whole city of Wadena."

Spending time with other contestants was the most fun part of the pageant experience, she said.

Behl's royal court includes First Princess Kristen Rokenbrodt, who won the interview portion of the competition, and Second Princess Mary McGrane, who performed a modern dance to "You and Me," by Lifehouse. Other winners at Sunday night's big event included Miss Congeniality Emily Ament and Ambassador Award recipient Brittany Ronneberg.

Behl won both the talent and the evening wear portions of the competition. She entertained the audience with a performance of the "Evolution of Dance" as originally performed by Judson Laipply.

Roping was her original choice for the talent competition, but Behl wasn't sure how that would translate into a three-and-a-half minute segment, she said. Watching the YouTube sensation "Evolution of Dance" inspired her to do a dance for the competition. Behl cut and mixed most of the track she danced to and added some of her own touches to the choreography, she said.

"It's something that I'm confident with," Behl said about the dance.

She's looking forward to representing Wadena at parades and other events during her reign as Miss Wadena, she said. She's also looking forward to dressing up every once in a while.

Behl will spend her summer working for summer rec, doing an internship at Tri-County Hospital and working at Thrifty White.

Her parents are George and Cynthia Behl. Behl's family moved from St. Cloud a couple of years ago, she said, and she likes Wadena.

"I wouldn't trade this small-town atmosphere for anything," Behl said. "I love it."