Trisha Smeenk wins 2012 Miss Rodeo USA Title
Shock and awe filled the air of the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds on Jan. 15, 2012 when Trisha Smeenk was crowned Miss Rodeo USA.
“This was such a surprise to all of us,” said Jenna Smeenk, Trisha’s younger sister. “When Trisha sets her mind on something she achieves it and we should never underestimate her.”
Trisha Smeenk is the 24-year-old daughter of Sherry and Greg Smeenk from Belle Fourche, SD. She graduated from South Dakota State University (SDSU) in May 2011, with a degree in broadcast journalism and psychology, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and human resource development.
Another large part of Trisha’s life is the South Dakota Air National Guard, where she serves as a staff sergeant in the Public Affairs office.
Hard work and preparation
Smeenk has been preparing for this opportunity her entire life. As a little girl growing up on a ranch in western South Dakota, her dream was to one day be a rodeo queen.
“I have been fascinated with the sport of rodeo since I was born,” said Smeenk. “I wanted to continue a family legacy, which kick-started my rodeo career when I was 5 years old. I am still as much in love with the sport, as I was then.”
Smeenk grew up on the back of a horse, where she competed in 4-H, Little Britches and high school rodeos. She then rode for SDSU’s Equestrian team as a valued western rider.
Every rodeo queen needs a fashion consultant, and Smeenk didn’t have to look very far. Her grandmother, Colleen Wammen of Spearfish, SD, was a perfect fit. “I was always calling her about what outfits and jewelry I should wear,” said Smeenk. “Not every girl can say she has a stylish grandma to borrow clothes from.”
Currently Smeenk holds the title of the Black Hills Stock Show Rodeo Queen. She will on Jan. 28 she crown her successor, and embark on her journey as Miss Rodeo USA.
Smeenk is the first South Dakotan to ever hold the title of Miss Rodeo USA. She will serve as a source of information about rodeo, the International Professional Rodeo Association (IPRA) and the western-lifestyle during her one-year reign.
“I knew coming into the rodeo the chance of winning the title was a long-shot, and that just made me work harder and study more,” Smeenk said. “When I arrived in Oklahoma City I could feel the excitement and determination in the air.”
Miss Rodeo USA serves as an ambassador for the IPRA. The IPRA is celebrating 52 years of rodeo excellence, founded in 1957 by two rodeo promoters. The Interstate Rodeo Association (IRA) was formed as a rodeo management organization and a sanctioning body. Concerned with expansion west of the Mississippi River, this new group’s primary interest was to enhance rodeo’s credibility with the news media in the eastern U.S., where fly-by-night rodeos, Wild West shows and unregulated contests had done much to discredit the sport.
Each year queens from all over the U.S. come to the IPRA Convention, held during the International Finals Rodeo, to participate in the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant. All contestants are put through a rigorous judging schedule. Categories include personality, appearance, and horsemanship, which offers judges added insight into each young lady’s total character.
This year three judges spent the week getting to know the seven contestants vying for the crown. The judges were: Doug Wade from Oklahoma, an avid horseman and competitor in several facets of rodeo and the horse industry today; Lana Grubb Hickok and Sandra Stephens, both from Texas, and each are former Miss Rodeo USA title holders.