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Ruth Nicolaus
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Lawrence cowgirl named 2017 Miss Rodeo Nebraska

Kristin Kohmetscher is the 2018 Miss Rodeo Nebraska. The Lawrence cowgirl was crowned during the first night of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte on June 14. She will graduate from Iowa State University next May with a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

A Lawrence, Neb., cowgirl has been selected as the 2018 Miss Rodeo Nebraska.

Kristin Kohmetscher will serve as the lady in waiting and her reign as the state queen will begin in January of 2018.

The Miss Rodeo Nebraska pageant was held prior to the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte, and Kohmetscher was crowned during the first night of rodeo, June 14.

It isn't the first title for the 25-year-old cowgirl.

She was selected as Miss Webster County Rodeo Princess in 2004, and since then, has served in various roles: Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska 2008, Miss Madison County Rodeo Princess, Miss Sutherland Rodeo Junior Queen, Miss Southwestern Nebraska Rodeo Princess and Queen (McCook), Miss Oregon Trail Rodeo (Hastings), Miss Ak-Sar-Ben (Omaha), Miss Burwell Rodeo, and Miss Central Nebraska Rodeo Queen (Pleasanton).

It all started when she got her first horse at age 8. "I begged for one," she said, and her parents, Duane and the late Laurie Kohmetscher, got her one. But their mindset was, "if you're interested in something, you need to know how to do it really well," Kohmetscher said. So the horse came with 4-H membership, so she could learn how to ride and care for it.

Then she won her first title, as Miss Webster County Rodeo Princess, 13 years ago. She was only 12 years old, but "I got a little voice in the back of my head that said, hey, this is cool. I need to put this on my list to do."

And she did.

Kohmetscher saw what "queening" — participating in rodeo queen pageants — could do for her. It improved her interview and speaking skills, "and it was another way to show that if I set goals and worked hard, I could accomplish things."

In the back of her mind, she knew she wanted to run for Miss Rodeo Nebraska. But she also knew a few years of maturity would help her in the pageant, so she waited till she was 25 to run.

DEGREE FOCUSED

She also had school to consider. She is in her final year at Iowa State in Ames and will graduate with a doctor of veterinary medicine degree in May of 2018. Postponing her participation in the state rodeo pageant gave her time to focus on her degree.

But it also came at a cost. Earlier this year, she and members of the Miss Rodeo Nebraska organization realized that the age limit for state rodeo queens participating in the Miss Rodeo America pageant was 25; a cowgirl cannot be older than that when the pageant occurs, each year in early December. They requested that the rule be changed by the Miss Rodeo America board, but because other states had begun their pageants for their 2018 queens, it could not be changed.

It stings a bit, Kohmetscher admits, that she cannot go on to represent Nebraska and run for Miss Rodeo America. But she's taking it in her mature way. "The good news is, they moved their age up, but it won't apply till the 2020 pageant," she said. "It's nice to know I helped out future girls" who might be postponing pageant participation to pursue professional careers.

And it's a blessing in disguise, she said. "I've been taking on a lot, and this is my bump from God to say, ok, you need to enjoy the Miss Rodeo Nebraska title but you also have a career waiting for you. It was intimidating to think I'd be away from schooling and my career for two years (to serve as Miss Rodeo Nebraska first and possibly as Miss Rodeo America), then try to find a job."

And it will make her reign in 2018 so much sweeter. "All the other (state rodeo queens) I'll meet next year will be jealous of me, because I'll be as cool as a cucumber when they're worrying about clothes" and pageant preparations.

She's still trying to realize what she's accomplished. "Now that it's come true, it's surreal," Kohmetscher said. "It's been a long time coming."

Her family: dad Duane and younger brother Shane were on hand while she and her younger sister Halee were in North Platte for the pageant. Halee ran for Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska and won the categories of personality and congeniality. They felt the presence of their mother, Laurie, who passed away in 2013. "She loved pink," Kohmetscher said. The evening she was crowned, "there was pink in the sunset, and a rainbow, too. She was there."

She was among two other cowgirls: Allyn Leick, and Carly Woerman, who competed, and after the scores were tabulated, Kohmetscher won five of the six categories: horsemanship, personality, appearance, speech and written test, to take the crown.

-Nicolaus is a freelance writer from Blue Hill, Neb., and a Great Plains girl at heart. She can be reached at Nicolaus@gtmc.net.