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Bradenton’s Next Top Model?

Will Bradenton “be on top” yet again this television season?

No one from the area was able to follow in the footsteps of Syesha Mercado and grab a spot on season eight of “American Idol.” But one Bradenton teen has managed to land on another hit reality TV show.

Jessica Santiago, 18, is one of the final 13 contestants on CW’s “America’s Next Top Model.” The show is a modeling competition hosted by super model Tyra Banks. Santiago, a student at Manatee Technical Institute, will be on the season premiere 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Contestants perform a number of modeling challenges on the show. They are critiqued by a panel of top models, photographers and fashion designers. The winner is awarded a contract with Elite Model Management and a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl. She will also grace the cover of Seventeen magazine.

Various Web sites that follow “ANTM” and CW’s message boards have been buzzing about Santiago, who is said to have modeled extensively in South Florida. The sites also say the 5-foot-10-inch teenager has been involved in many beauty pageants.

Santiago, a native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, is a first-year nursing student at MTI.

Institute director Mary Cantrell was thrilled to hear that one of her students would be featured on national television.

“I’m so excited,” she said.

Since Santiago is fairly new on campus, administrators couldn’t immediately place the tall dark-haired model.

The school’s assistant director Priscilla Haflich said she’s probably crossed paths with the local fashionista at some point, though.

“We have a lot of really good-looking girls in the class,” Haflich said.

Cantrell admitted she doesn’t keep up with reality TV, but she’ll be watching this season’s “ANTM.”

“You bet I will!” she said.

Be sure to follow us on twitter at twitter.com/accentbradenton as we comment live this season on "America's Next Top Model."

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