The next Miss America competition will have some Clark County representation as Abbie Kondel has taken the Miss Washington title for 2019.
Kondel, previously named Miss Clark County on more than one occasion, was awarded the state title June 29. The Hockinson High School graduate received the county honors both this year and in 2017, in the meantime snagging a Miss Rainier title in 2018 as part of an at-large competition.
“It’s so much to take in and realize that I’m Miss Washington and I’m going to Miss America,” Kondel said when speaking to The Reflector the week following her crowning. She was runner-up for the title last year, losing to Danamarie McNicholl of Spokane who came in the top 15 at the national competition.
Kondel, an Idaho transplant, said that although winning the state title was exciting, looking back at all of her competitors and their excitement for her stood out in her recollections of the event.
“Of course you’re excited, but seeing the girls that were competing against you so excited and showing me so much love, that was probably the best part,” she said.
Kondel will be taking a year off from her studies at Brigham Young University, majoring in exercise science with an eye on medical school, in order to stay in the state for the year. She said she got involved with pageants relatively recently, placing as second runner-up in the Junior Miss Idaho competition before moving to Clark County.
Kondel said part of the reason she has competed was to find an outlet for her love of tap-dancing, her talent of choice, commenting that after spending years in lessons the competition lets her continue to take part in the art.
Through the competitions Kondel said she’s received more than $20,000 in scholarships, putting her on track to graduate debt-free at BYU. She mentioned the Miss America organization is the largest scholarship opportunity for women in the nation.
Though she’ll be making an appearance on the national stage, Kondel said that with turnover in the Miss America governing authority a date and place for the event wasn’t finalized. In the leadup to the national and other competitions she’s been a part of, she said there was much work — intense interview prep, practicing her tap dancing and getting as many community service hours as possible.
On the service note, Kondel has been leading a “Be Smart, Don’t Start” drug and alcohol abuse prevention campaign, stemming from her own experiences with family members dealing with addiction.
“Seeing how (addiction) impacted my family’s life and the lives that it took, that’s why I decided I never wanted to see that happen to anyone I loved again,” Kondel said.
Currently Kondel is staying with her director, Peggy Miller, in Puyallup. She said she’ll be stopping by Clark County when she can, though as the state representative for the Miss America organization she’ll be moving around a lot.
“I’m just travelling across the state, basically all the time,” Kondel said.
Kondel said the hardest part of competition preparation was practicing the interview portion.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to be up to date on the news because there is so much going on constantly,” Kondel said, explaining that having solid sources for information and the opinions of judges can lead to a stressful rehearsal.
But her favorite part remains the tap dancing, a skill she started when she was three years old, Kondel said. She was taught by her mother, who still choreographs her routines.
“Getting to dance with her and pretend like I’m five years old again, dancing with her in the studio, that’s pretty special to me,” Kondel said.