High School Rodeo Queen may sound like a title that is more glamour than grit, but Kayla Ann Kalauli is an example that the queens in Hawaii can ride with the best of them.
In 2013, not only did Kalauli take home the Hawaii High School Rodeo Queen crown, but also the all-around cowgirl title. It is not common on the mainland for queens to also be contenders in events including barrel racing, goat tying and breakaway roping.
“Here in Hawaii, our queens can also compete in rodeo events and get down and dirty just like anyone else,” Kalauli, a recent Honokaa graduate, said. “It’s not all glamour like the mainland.”
At the Hawaii High School Rodeo Association awards ceremony Sunday, Kalauli will pass her crown on to one of three competitors vying for the crown.
Mia Nakachi and Patricia Rincon, both from Honokaa High School, and Cheyenne Andrade from Kauai High School are in the running for the title and the honor of representing Hawaii at the national finals.
While the rodeo points have no affect on the queen competition, all four girls participated in the fast-paced action Saturday at Parker Ranch Arena. They will find out just minutes apart who will take home the crown and if they have qualified to compete at the National High School Rodeo Finals from July 13 to 19 in Rock Springs, Wyo.
Since the first Hawaii high school rodeo in 1988, a queen has represented the state at the national finals.
The competition is open to high school students in grades nine through 11. Participants are judged on interviews, modeling, speech, impromptu question response and horsemanship pattern. Six judges picked from the community also evaluate overall appearance and personality.
“I really encourage girls to compete in the queen competition because it will truly change their lives,” Hawaii State Queen Coordinator Morag Miranda said. “We have had amazing girls represent Hawaii through the years.”
Kalauli said it has been a great learning experience, with the highlight being when she helped demonstrate rodeo events for special needs students.
“It’s not just the title of being queen,” Kalauli said. “You also learn great social skills and meet a lot of interesting people. There is so much I’m taking away from the experience.”
The queen contestants participated in the speech, modeling and impromptu question portions of the pageant at Parker Ranch Center Friday evening.
“I was telling them to relax,” Kalauli, who helped facilitate the event, said. “I had been in their footsteps times before, and if they just relaxed it would be just fine.”
High school rodeo riders also participated in a fashion show during the pageant, showing off the latest in cowboy fashion.
“It is a nice opportunity in this environment to get the kids together away from the arena and give them a chance to enjoy each other’s company,” Miranda said. “When they are at the arena, they are really just competing.”
The three queen candidates completed horsemanship patterns before the rodeo kicked into high gear Saturday.
Asked if she had any advice to pass on to the competitors, Kalauli regally replied, “Be proud of yourself, who you are and where you come from. That’s the advice I would give anyone.”