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Carson High students compete on Wheel of Fortune

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

After appearing on the national game show “Wheel of Fortune,” Carson High School students Sara Coleman and Denise Rikalo have learned a valuable lesson: Always buy a vowel.

“It really helped with the puzzles to have the vowels in them,” said Rikalo, 18. “‘A’ and ‘e’ were pretty common.”

The adventure began in October when Coleman’s father heard an announcement on the radio for a Reno audition for the show.

Coleman decided to try out and chose Rikalo to be her partner for the “teen best friends” episode.

“I knew she’d be fun, an enthusiastic partner,” Coleman said. “We would be a good team.”

They are keeping the details of their performance a secret until the show airs Jan. 30.

“It will be more exciting that way,” Rikalo said.

The girls auditioned Oct. 28 in Reno and were selected to compete. The two families traveled together in the Rikalo family motor home to Los Angeles on Nov. 22 for the taping.

During the month between the audition and the taping, the girls spent much of their free time playing a virtual “Wheel of Fortune” game on the computer, which prepared them for them for the event.

“It was nerve-racking at first being there and being on TV, but then, after a while, you just concentrated on the game,” Coleman said. “You just want to win.”

And being contestants changed their perception of the show. They watch it now with new insight.

“The set looks bigger on TV, and it’s just fun to watch it and know how it really is,” Rikalo said. “When the commercials come on, we know that they’re actually getting their makeup touched up and getting a drink of water.”

The girls met at a family camp out about two years ago. They became closer friends over the last year through the Omega youth group of Hilltop Community Church.

Rikalo, a senior, plans to attend Simpson College, a Christian school in Redding, Calif., and major in world missions and science of nursing.

Coleman is a junior and wants to work with children or infants.

They plan to watch the airing with a crowd of family and friends.

Regardless of the outcome, they said the experience was a win.

“We had our own contestant bathroom and makeup area,” Coleman said. “We were stars for a day.”

WHO: Carson High students Sara Coleman and Denise Rikalo

WHAT: Competing on ‘Wheel of Fortune” on ABC TV

WHEN: Scheduled to air Jan. 30