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Nanette Pearson can sit her grandchildren down someday and tell them a personal story about how winners never quit and quitters never win.

In her fifth try for the crown, the Pleasant Grove ballerina won the Miss Utah title and $13,000 in the Centennial scholarship pageant that came to a dramatic close Saturday night before a packed house at Mountain View High School.Pearson, 23, competing as Miss Salt Lake Valley, was named Miss Utah 1996-97 out of a field of 65 contestants from cities and counties all over the state.

First runner-up is Holly Orton, Miss Utah Valley State College, followed by 2nd runner-up, Joana Canals, Miss West Valley.

Miss Orem, Jenet Jacob, took 3rd runner-up and Michele Mobley, Miss Salt Lake County, took 4th.

Heidi Anderson, Miss Riverton, won an interview award, and the pageant judges chose five contestants to receive special recognition: Jodi Lee Erickson, Miss Beaver County; Emily Bradley, Miss Salem; Staci Robison, Miss American Fork; DaNae Robinson, Miss Indian Scholarship; and Dana Robison, Miss Willard County.

Contestants who achieved recognition for outstanding community service projects included Meisha Johnson, Miss Color Country; TaNeal Colledge, Miss Lehi; Amanda Nash, Miss Kaysville/

Fruit Heights; Amber Cranney, Miss Draper; and Tiffany Hendrickson, Miss Richfield.

Pearson's focus for community service is on the dangers and misperceptions teenage girls have about anorexia and bulimia nervosa.

Non-finalist talent awards went to flutists Audrey Beckstrand, Miss Tooele County, and vocalist Karen Lindsay, Miss Pleasant Grove.

A total of 36 special scholarships were given to contestants in the local event this year including awards to the top 10 finalists and a second top 10, plus the judges' and community service awards.

Pearson, the daughter of Barry and Linda Pearson of Pleasant Grove, will now compete in the Miss America event in August in Atlantic City.