Trailblazer Queen score miscalculations lead to incorrect crowning

The annual Trailblazer Queen pageant was held April 9 crowning Angel Wood, a senior media studies major from Surprise, Arizona, as the 2024 Trailblazer Queen. Following an array of puzzling factors and a miscalculation, it was announced at Live and Local April 10 that Allison Park, a junior marketing major from Washington, was recrowned as the 2024 Trailblazer Queen and Angel Wood as first attendant. Photo courtesy of Cora Mark and Miki Akiyama

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The day after the Trailblazer Queen pageant, the Utah Tech University Student Association announced there had been a miscalculation with the scores of the crowned winners. This miscalculation resulted in a mistake with the announced Trailblazer Queen.

On the original day of Trailblazer Queen, April 9, UTSA, Trailblazer Queen and Utah Tech University posted on their Instagram pages and stories about the newly crowned queen, Angel Wood, a senior media studies major from Surprise, Arizona. Twelve hours later, UTSA and other accounts deleted the posts and posted new photos announcing Allison Park, a junior marketing major from Washington, as the new Trailblazer Queen.

The originally announced queen and attendants were:

  • Trailblazer Queen – Angel Wood
  • First attendant – Sydney Sorenson
  • Second attendant – Amira Hassan
  • Third attendant – Nicole Parkin
  • Fourth attendant – Breonna Bingham
The original UTSA post announcing Angel Wood as the new Trailblazer Queen before the post was deleted.

In the new Instagram announcement, UTSA wrote, “Due to a calculation error, the court was announced incorrectly during the event. We sincerely apologize for the mistake and any frustration this may cause our contestants and their loved ones.”

The new queen and attendants were announced as:

  • Trailblazer Queen – Allison Park
  • First attendant – Angel Wood
  • Second attendant – Sydney Sorenson
  • Third attendant – Olivia Shoaf
  • Fourth attendant – Amira Hassan
  • Fifth attendant – Nicole Parkin
  • Sixth attendant – Breonna Bingham

After the announcement, the new queen was crowned at Live and Local April 10.

Alijah Caskinette, the 2023 Trailblazer Queen, crowned Wood the night of the pageant. She said the miscalculation shows the importance of meticulous planning, preparation and accountability.

“When I first heard the news, I was shocked and immediately heartbroken for Angel,” Caskinette said. “At the same time, I was also happy for Allison, but Allison was not announced as being within the top five at all on the night. So it was probably really exciting for her.”

She also said she had never heard of this situation happening before.

“It is such a heartbreaking situation, and I’m sure that all the girls involved felt very confused, hurt and upset as a result of the mistake,” Caskinette said.

After reaching out for further information on the miscalculation, Karson Ray, UTSA vice president of student life who was involved in the production of the pageant, declined to comment on the matter.

Luke Kerouac, director of student involvement and leadership, spoke on UTSA’s behalf. Kerouac said the miscalculation occurred due to a formatting error on an Excel spreadsheet. Sun News was unable to obtain a copy of the spreadsheet with the error. Kerouac said this pageant was not run differently this year and that the pageant, “has been a student event and will continue to be a student event.”

“After it was brought to my attention that there was an error, it fell on me to fix it,” Kerouac said.

Wood posted on her Instagram talking about her experience with the Trailblazer Queen pageant.

In her post, she tagged Kerouac and Ray, saying: “I hope your daughters or future daughters never have to feel the immense pain I’ve felt this past week,” Wood wrote. “Please do better to not only advocate for the members of your own organization but also the student body.”

Wood’s talent for the pageant was a speech from her column, Angel Wood Know, which she used in her post.

She wrote: “As I stated in my Trailblazer Queen speech, ‘Doors open and close all the time as I firmly believe in the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason.’ At the end of the day, our worth isn’t measured by a cheap tiara and sash. It’s measured by our hard work, our experiences and our desire to continue blazing our own trail.”

Wood said when she woke up April 10, she had a text from Sophie Sparks, who directed the pageant. After she received the text, she went to the UTSA adviser’s office to meet with Ray and Sparks.

“They told me in person, which I was grateful for,” Wood said. “They explained to me there was a miscalculation that had looked like Allison placed, but they weren’t sure when they told me. I felt immediate heartache, and it was so painful to hear.”

At Live and Local, Wood was given the first attendant crown and sash where she also crowned Park as Trailblazer Queen. Park posted on the Trailblazer Queen Instagram, announcing her new title.

She wrote, “I’m so grateful for all the queens who competed in this year’s pageant, it was truly the best night. Even though there was confusion, I am excited to be a part of this D-week tradition!”

After speaking to Ray and Sparks, Wood said Jordon Sharp, vice president of marketing and communication and previous UTSA adviser, was the third party who recounted the points and that she was told the Excel sheet was formatted for 23 contestants instead of 26, which resulted in the errors on the spreadsheet.

Wood said, “Although mistakes happen, being a little more careful and considerate can stop the same mistakes from happening again.”

Sparks, Sharp and Park declined to comment.

Editor’s note: the editor-in-chief of Sun News Daily Angel Wood was not involved in the process of writing, editing, interviewing or publishing this story. This story was edited by news editor Lexy Borgogno, opinion editor Grace Kazmierski and copy editor Alyssa Bayles.