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.