Wapato's Elyse Umemoto is runner-up in Miss America competition - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wapato's Elyse Umemoto is runner-up in Miss America competition

Elyse Umemoto Elyse Umemoto
Kirsten Haglund Kirsten Haglund

To a Wapato family, she's the older sister with a sense of style - and humor - who takes her younger siblings shopping. To the nation, she's the reigning Miss Washington who competed Saturday to become the first American Indian to be crowned Miss America.

And now, you can call her the runner-up to Miss America.  Kirsten Haglund was crowned Miss America 2008, but Umemoto was one of five runner-ups.

While 23-year-old Elyse Umemoto, a Wapato native, was in rehearsals all week preparing for the pageant, her family was getting ready for the big night, too.

Luana Lumley, Miss Washington's mom, is the interim chief executive officer of the Washington State Migrant Council. Lumley realized this week that she could become Miss America's mother.

About 120 supporters from Washington state traveled to Vegas for the pageant.

Elyse studied political science and psychology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.

If she has won, she would have been the first Miss Washington to become Miss America. She would also be the first Native American to wear the crown. And the first Hispanic. As well as the second Asian.

Elyse jokingly refers to herself as a "quad." Her ethnicity is one-quarter American Indian - she's an enrolled Yakama - as well as German, Hispanic and Japanese.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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