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March Mania

Carrington native to compete for Miss America

Haley Wolfe, who was crowned Miss North Dakota 2019 in June, will travel to Connecticut in December to compete in the Miss America Competition. Submitted photo

CARRINGTON, N.D. — After nearly six months as Miss North Dakota, Haley Wolfe's personal mantra has remained the same: one day at a time.

"I'm really just trying to enjoy the process as much as I can," Wolfe said. "You only get one year (as Miss North Dakota)."

Wolfe, who is originally from Carrington, will take this slogan into the national competition for Miss America in December, when the event is hosted on national television from Connecticut. There, Wolfe will compete with 50 other women ages 18 to 25 from across the country for the Miss America crown.

One of Wolfe's favorite parts of meeting women from across the country: explaining that she grew up in a town without a Walmart.

"It's kind of funny to explain it, that I grew up in such a small-town community. I knew everybody, all my classmates and all their parents. It was special being able to make those connections within a community," Wolfe said. "It's pretty funny explaining to the other girls that I graduated in a class of 45, but I was also able to make a relationship with each and every one of them.

"It's unique and I absolutely love it," Wolfe said.

Wolfe, a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead, has taken a year off to concentrate on her upcoming school tour as Miss North Dakota, where she presents to students about the competition as well as sharing resources for her social impact initiative.

"It's a full-time job," Wolfe said. "I think I've traveled 1,700 miles as Miss North Dakota already."

Wolfe said her social impact initiative is called "#BeThe1To" and focuses on suicide prevention and awareness. Wolfe said she has lost a cousin to suicide, which inspired her to take action.

"Sometimes people forget that it's OK not to be OK, that we shouldn't always take 'I'm fine' as an acceptable answer," Wolfe said. "This is all about being that person that's going to be there for someone else. It's to make sure that we're all taking care of each other.

"I heard a quote once ... it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to save a child," Wolfe said.

Wolfe was crowned Miss West Fargo earlier this year before going on to win the statewide competition for Miss North Dakota in June, edging out 19 other contestants. Wolfe said the judges announce the first runner-up's name first, so when she didn't hear her name, she knew she had won.

"When you're standing there with them (the other contestant) and neither of you know who it's going to be or whose name is going to be called, there was just a lot of not really knowing, so there wasn't a lot going through my mind in that moment," Wolfe said. "When I didn't hear my name called I couldn't really believe it at first. For about a month after it still just felt like a dream, but now I've kind of wrapped my head around it.

"It's a humbling experience," Wolfe said. "It's given me confidence in myself and I want to make the state of North Dakota proud."

Wolfe said she first competed in the contest in 2018, coming in as the fourth runner-up. Katie Ralston, Miss North Dakota 2010 who is also from Carrington, spoke at an event for Wolfe at Cross Roads Golf Club in Carrington on Saturday, Nov. 16.

"We're looking at a new era for the competition," Ralston said. "It's changed a lot since I was participating in it."

Ralston said the scoring of the event would be broken down by performances in four different categories, totaling 100%. The personal interview will account for 20%, an on-stage interview will count for 15%, the social impact initiative pitch will count for 15% and a talent competition will count for 50%.

For Wolfe's talent portion, she plans on showcasing her dancing ability in the competition.

"I tried out for my high school dance team ... I've never really been classically trained, so everything I've learned I've learned through my coaches," Wolfe said. "I always wanted to be a dancer."

Wolfe said she also participates on the MSUM dance team while enrolled in school. She said she will go into the national competition much like she entered her first state competition: with no expectations.

"We were asked to come up with one word to represent ourselves ... mine was 'unafraid'. Last year I was very scared; I was very afraid," Wolfe said. "My goal is to not be afraid of any opportunities or challenges that come along. Being unafraid of what's going to come next.

"You only get one shot, so I'm going to make the most of it," Wolfe said.

Wolfe said competing has taught her valuable life skills, including public speaking and interviewing.

"A lot of people don't know about the skills we gain through the process of competing," Wolfe said. "It creates stage confidence and allows women to feel professional and empowered."

Another favorite part of of her competition career was having the opportunity to compete alongside her older sister, Sabrina.

"She's 23, so we're 16 months apart. Growing up we kind of always thought that it would be a possibility that we would end up competing together," Wolfe said. "The best part was just having my biggest supporter by my side ... having that really close connection, I couldn't have asked anything more from her."

After the national competition, Wolfe said she plans to finish serving her one-year term as Miss North Dakota before returning back to MSUM to complete her degree. Unless she wins Miss America, of course.

"I read this statistic that you're actually more likely to have a son play in the Super Bowl than you are to have a daughter win Miss America," Wolfe said.

Wolfe said she will travel to Connecticut on Dec. 11 to begin preliminary competition. On Dec. 14, Wolfe will compete in the private interview phase before competing in the talent portion of the event on Dec. 15. On Dec. 16, Wolfe will compete in the on-stage interview and social impact pitch for judges.

The final night of the Miss America competition will be broadcast live on NBC at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19.