I'd be hard pressed to call the first image a portrait (I like the photo though) and the second image is very good.

My complaints about the 2nd are that burning in on the corners seems a bit over done especially with such directional lighting and a seamless background and the picture appears to be more about an event or moment in time than about a person. Being about the person is how I see portraiture.
From a compositional point I think you'll find the winner(s) of the competition will be more of head shot or will have the face as the focal point. The reasoning is not to assume that the judges are hopelessly conventional, but because the face transmits so much more meaning -- most may even be subjective or unintentional. In your image you rely upon the pose to provide meaning and it works really well, but you've handicapped yourself by being so literal.