SHERIDAN — Two young women born and raised in Sheridan will be among the six contestants competing for the title of Miss Wyoming at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center Saturday night.
While their paths to the contest vary, both have a drive to succeed moving forward.
Julie Tritschler, Miss Sheridan County
Julie Tritschler is lucky to be alive.
Shortly after graduating from Tongue River High School in 2016, Tritschler was involved in a near-fatal single-car accident; her car rolled over six to eight times and she was found nearly 30 feet from the wreck.
Tritschler suffered a broken C2 vertebra in her neck, a broken L5 vertebra in her back, a lacerated spleen — as well as myriad smaller internal injuries — a floated knee and a traumatic brain injury. She spent 10 days in the hospital and six months in physical therapy recovering from the accident. Even now, she feels residual effects of the accident.
“I’m still recovering a little bit,” Tritschler said. “I still have body aches, small things like that.”
Tritschler said she had considered competing in the pageant while she was in high school but never committed to it. After the accident, that changed.
“I ended up getting my mind pretty much set on it and deciding this is what I wanted to do,” Tritschler said. “I thought this would be a great way to spread my message.”
Each Miss Wyoming contestant writes a platform for the competition and Tritschler chose to use hers to warn against distracted driving. Her platform is “Don’t be a DIP,” which stands for distractive inconsiderate passenger. While every platform requires preparation on the part of the contestant, Tritschler said choosing the platform meant preparing herself to talk about a painful experience.
“It was mostly mental preparation [for the competition],” Tritschler said. “Because as easy as it is for me to talk about my accident now, it wasn’t necessarily the easiest thing in the beginning. But I had to just remind myself that spreading my message could be a way to save someone’s life.”
Tritschler said she will deliver a monologue during that competition that describes her experience and focuses on the importance of driving safely.
Tritschler is currently a student at the University of Wyoming with a double major in business and public relations with an emphasis on natural resource consumption.
“I’d like to work in the oil or coal or gas industry on the business side,” Tritschler said.
As far as the pageant goes, Tritschler said she sees it primarily as an opportunity to warn against distracted driving.
“I plan to go as far as I can in the pageant system,” Tritshcler said. “But I will continue to spread my message and hopefully it can save a life.”
Becky Bridger, Miss Northeast Wyoming
For Becky Bridger, the Miss Wyoming competition was a natural fit.
“I’ve been performing since I was a little girl and I’ve always wanted to compete for the title of Miss Wyoming,” Bridger said.
Bridger attended Sheridan high school and received an associate degree in finance from Sheridan College, but she also studied performing arts for two years at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.
Bridger is adopted and chose to center her platform, which is titled “Thriving in between: breaking boundaries to discover an authentic you,” on issues of identity that she said are common, but by no means limited to, adopted children and adoptive families.
“I’m really trying to encourage people to feel like they can step outside of their box and be who they are without feeling a certain expectation from society,” Bridger said. “Because I’m adopted, I’ve had to navigate what that is like at a very young age.”
While building her platform, Bridger connected with people and organizations throughout the community to create service opportunities. She is currently working with the Summer of Hope program to bring eight Filipino children to Sheridan for four weeks in the hopes of finding them adoptive families.
“We’ll be holding events for the children that will let them be immersed in Sheridan’s culture and hopefully form bonds with families looking to adopt,” Bridger said.
The weeks leading up to the competition have been hectic for all of the competitors, but for Bridger the preparation has been especially intense because she signed up for the competition later than most of the other contestants.
“I think everyone had their platforms and was signed up right after Miss Wyoming was crowned last year,” Bridger said. “I came in about halfway through, with probably 100 days of preparation left, which meant I had a lot of work to do.”
But in addition to her career goals, Bridger said after the competition ends, win or lose, she plans to continue advocating for and volunteering her time to promote adoption.
“I think that is something I will do my entire life,” Bridger said. “Regardless of the outcome, I’m going to keep on serving the community and making those partnerships and trying to do the best that I can.”
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are available through the WYO box office.