It seemed fitting Paige Harder and Claire Nieshalla shared two identical honors June 16 at the Miss Indiana pageant at the Zionsville Performing Arts Center, as both have strong Zionsville ties.
Nieshalla advanced by winning Miss Fall Festival’s Outstanding Teen competition in Zionsville last year. Harder was the 2018 Miss Spirit of Indiana.
Harder, a 2015 Zionsville Community High School graduate whose parents have since moved to Carmel, was the second runner-up in the Miss Indiana 2018 competition. Nieshalla, a homeschooled senior from Zionsville, was the second runner-up in Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen 2018. Both won the Hoosier Spirit award, which is akin to Miss Congeniality, in their pageants.
“I feel humbled and honored, all glory goes to God,” Harder said. “It was a blast. There were so many great opportunities. Each day had something new. Spending time with the girls each day was fun. The board takes such good care of us. Not just the time, but the passion they put into it is so evident in our experience. I’m so grateful.”
Harder, who will graduate from Taylor University with a degree in exercise science in December, said it is amazing how the girls support each other.
Like Harder, Nieshalla said she was blessed to have such success.
“I met so many wonderful girls and the friendships are priceless,” Nieshalla said. “I’m sure a lot of the (friendships) will last forever. It’s always your goal to be the best that you can be, but this was my first time at state, so I was leaving it up to the Lord and I knew his will to be done.”
It made it sweeter to win the awards in her hometown.
“I’m so proud to live in Zionsville and have this wonderful Miss America organization have the pageant right here in Zionsville,” Nieshalla said.
Nieshalla also received the talent award in the preliminary competition. She sang and performed on the piano her original song, “Rain.” Harder won Miss Talent for her piano performance in the preliminary contest.
Two women from Kendallville swept the top honors. Lydia Tremaine was crowned Miss Indiana and Jenna Zabona was crowned Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen.