ANDERSON — Standing up on stage, Audra Casterline clutched onto Presley Moreland. When the announcer called out Moreland’s name, Casterline immediately hit the floor.
As the audience in the Zionsville High School Performing Arts Center started to scream, Casterline slowly got up and realized that Moreland was first runner-up and she was the new Miss Indiana.
“I have stood in that position where there are two girls left and they’re calling my name,” Casterline said. “I was shocked and elated to be chosen as Miss Indiana this year.”
She’ll go on to represent the Hoosier state this September in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.
In some ways, she’s representing Madison County. Casterline graduated from Anderson University in 2013. Her parents grew up in Anderson and she still has family in the area, including her grandparents and uncle, Gary Ferguson.
Ferguson and several other family members went to Zionsville to watch Casterline compete in interview, evening gown, swimsuit, on-stage questions and talent during the preliminaries and finals June 18 to 21.
“Her reaction was so genuine,” Ferguson said. “I think we were down to the stage in 10 seconds flat.”
Ferguson said at each elimination – top 10, top five and then placing the runners-up – he would breathe a sigh of relief, before then turning into a nervous wreck for the next round.
Casterline’s ties to Madison County may offer some hope to an area that’s been hit with hardship and job losses, Ferguson said.
“It just seems to me like in some ways, the spirit of the city has been down,” he said. “This is something that reflects on the community positively.”
Casterline said she wants to have a positive influence on Madison County, Indiana and all over. She said she’s working tirelessly to get the word out about her platform point, “Food for Thought: Increasing Awareness of Eating Disorders.”