NILES, Ohio (WKBN) — Next week, nearly two dozen girls from across Ohio will head to Mansfield for the Miss Ohio competition — and one of them is a Niles native.

Caitlin Seifert got her start in her hometown at the McKinley Memorial competing in Miss Niles in 2014. Now, she’s one of 23 girls competing for Miss Ohio this year.

“It’s been really amazing to have the support of the local community and just all of the love and support of everybody here,” Seifert said. “They’re all excited when I tell them about the journey.”

Seifert was 16 years old when she was crowned Miss Niles and after that joined the Miss Ohio Outstanding Teen program. This year, she was crowned Miss Clayland, qualifying her for Miss Ohio.

She’ll spend a week doing preliminary interviews, evening gown and fitness competitions and a talent: Twirling. Seifert was a competitive twirler for years and started at 3 years old.

“It’s taught me a lot of really important life lessons, like hard work, determination, time management,” Seifert said.

Win or lose — Seifert said she’s grateful for the chance to compete in Miss Ohio and says her family and friends have been incredibly supportive of the long hours and travel the competitions require.

“I have a big crowd coming next week to support me and all of the nights of preliminaries and finals night. And my friends there — so fun,” Seifert said.

Seifert wants people to know that the competitions are about more than looking pretty.

“It really is more about who you are as a person, your smarts, your capabilities. Miss Ohio and the Miss America organization is actually one of the leading scholarship providers for women in the United States,” she said.

If Seifert wins, she gets a $10,000 scholarship to put toward her student loans and a shot at Miss America.