Jordan Smyers, a welding student at Portage Lakes Career Center and Manchester High School, earned the title of Ohio National High School Rodeo (NHSR) Queen and will be traveling with her Ohio teammates to compete in 69th Annual National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) in Gillette, Wyo., in the Queen competition beginning today. The rodeo runs through July 22.
Featuring more than 1,750 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian provinces and Australia, the NHSFR is the world’s largest rodeo. As a queen, Smyers will be introducing her state team and all the grand entries on horseback.
This was Smyers first year on the rodeo team. She started riding horses when she was eight and joined the rodeo circuit when she was 16.
"I absolutely love it. I wish I would have gotten into it sooner but I just didn’t know about it," Smyers said. "There’s not a lot of people up North that know Ohio has a rodeo team."
Smyers, who is entering her senior year of high school, earned her queen title by besting her competitors in several categories including, a two-minute prepared speech, an impromptu speech with a previously unknown question, horsemanship performance, a modeling portion, personal interview and written test. Most of the queen events take place before the rest of the NHSFR competition and are closed to the public. The winning queen will not be announced until the end of the NHSFR competition.
"People think queening is all about hair and makeup, but it’s more based on your knowledge and really making your personality shine so you stick out from the other contestants," said Smyers, who will be riding a leased horse named Awop at NHSFR in Wyoming.
According to Kris Smyers, Jordan's mother, the younger Smyers usually rides Lakota, a palomino paint, in competitions. However, the high school student borrowed an American quarter horse named BB for the horsemanship portion of the NHSR queen contest in Ohio. For future queen duties, she will use her retired contest horse named Aztec Gold.
Next year, Smyers will continue to compete in rodeos with Lakota in pole bending, barrel racing and goat tying events. Outside of the rodeo, Smyers is very passionate about her welding work. She got into welding when she took a tour through Portage Lakes Career Center and its weld shop.
Smyers described the welding classes as "probably the most hands-on program there and it’s a small classroom. You’re in there for four periods a day. It’s crazy how much I’ve learned. I was the only student in class to get a (welding) certification this year through American Welding Society."
With her national certification in welding, Smyers wants to go straight into the workforce after graduation. Her fervor for welding is evident as she recalled the SkillsUSA contest that her team entered.
"Each team had to build a candleholder in their own shop and we went on a Pirates of the Caribbean theme," she said. "We built a model of the boat was being taken down by octopus tentacles and the tentacles were the candle holders."
Smyers believes it is important to be well-rounded for the competition and in life.
"I like to be involved in as many things as I can," she said. "I’m very involved in my county."
In return, her community has chipped in for her with many local companies giving donations so she can be prepared for the competition.
Tune in on Saturday to see championship performances as a part of the Cinch High School Rodeo Tour telecast series on RFD-TV. Live broadcasts of each performance will also air online at NHSRATV.com. Performance times are 7 p.m. on July 16, and 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day thereafter.
Visit NHSRA.org daily for complete results.