By EVELYN SEIJIDO and TARYN HARTMAN
Just hours after suffering a devastating knee injury, Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones took the Miss America stage and brought the house down Thursday night during the pageant's final night of preliminary competition.
Jones suffered a completely torn ACL and a partially torn MCL in her right knee after a fall during her talent rehearsal Thursday morning. Medics took her offstage on a stretcher and rushed her to the hospital. She returned to Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall with a brace on her knee and determined to perform.
"Football players normally do this in a game and they're out for the rest of the season, they don't come back," Jones told ABC News. "It's not exactly like that here . I'm coming back."
The fiercely competitive 20-year-old baton twirler had the night's top talent performance and walked away with a Preliminary Talent Award and a $2,000 scholarship.
"I'm finishing this thing," Jones said before a final run-through.
"I'm probably one of the most competitive people here, and I'm ready to do it. I'm really ready to do this. I'm excited. I think it's gonna be great."
It certainly was. After a high-energy routine that belied the pain she was feeling, Jones walked offstage with a slight limp and a standing ovation ringing in her ears.
"Electrifying," she said backstage. "It was absolutely incredible. Believe in the plan. Everything will work out."
"I firmly believe if there's a will, there's a way. I willed myself to be here, I willed myself to win Miss Florida, and I'm willing myself to win Miss America."
ABC News' Keturah Gray and Thomas Krakowiak contributed to this report.