The Miss Dodge City Organization had a lot to smile about following the Miss Kansas Pageant in Pratt last week. Representing the organization in the Miss Kansas Competition were Miss Dodge City Paige Harding, Miss Cowboy Capital Dakota Derstein and Miss Boot Hill Emily Rugg.

In the Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen competition were Miss Dodge City's Outstanding Teen Abby Harding and Miss Cowboy Capital's Outstanding Teen Alexandria Gier.

Among the Miss candidates, Paige Harding broke into the top 11 then was named to the top five, eventually placing as fourth runner-up. In the teens, Abby Harding was a Teens in Action Finalist.

"After a full week of competition, the Miss Dodge City Organization is headed home, full of amazing accomplishments, smiles and anticipation for what future awaits. They didn't come home with new crowns or a new job title, but we are incredibly proud of all of the accomplishments of all five of our amazing young women," said Jenna Powers, Miss Dodge City Organization executive director.

Harding said she didn't expect to make it into the Top 10 because all 28 candidates were good and it was more competitive than in the past.

"I exceeded my expectations. I hadn't been on the stage for a while. I was a little nervous," Harding said.

As she stood there waiting, she heard other names being called and mentally prepared that she wasn't going to make it and would help her friends that did. Her name was the last one called.

"I was shocked. It was nerve-wrecking, but it was great when my name was called," Harding said.

Then her families video appeared on the big screen telling her she had made the top five.

"I was just in complete shock. I was ecstatic to make top five. I could be Miss Kansas," Harding said. "It was a really good feeling, knowing that the judges believed in me."

For now, Harding wants to take a break from all things with the competition before she decides if she will try again.

In the meantime, she will continue to work on her platform: The A,B,C's of Alzheimer's Disease.

While each candidate has just a few minutes on stage at Miss Kansas, there are hours and hours of rehearsal at the pageant, plus all the hours in preparation for their local competitions.

The Miss candidates are divided into two groups and have two preliminary competitions. One group performs talent while the other does on-stage interview plus Evening Wear and Social Impact Statement (platform). Then next night, the two groups switch.

On the final night, one candidate is chosen by popular vote in the community while the top 10 are selected from judges' totals.

"After two nights of prelims and uncertainty of what exactly the judges were looking for, we had our reservations heading into the Miss finals Saturday night," Powers said. "We knew Emily, Dakota and Paige had worked hard the past nine months and were consistent all week with their performances. We hoped for the best. Paige was the last name to be called for in the Top 11."

In the Teen competition, 10 candidates competed in Health and Fitness in Sportswear Production Number and Competition, Talent, Evening Wear and On-Stage Question.

"Both Allie Gier and Abby Harding nailed their fitness routines, talents, on-stage question and evening gown performances. Abby was a Top Three finalist for the 'Teen in Action' award," Powers said.

Besides the candidates success, the Miss Dodge City Organization was recognized for its efforts.

"We really feel this was a great growing year for us and having our efforts recognized on the state level and at Miss Kansas was more than we could have asked for," Powers said.