Competing at Westminster, ‘dream come true’ for Holley senior, 17

Photos by Annette Mrzywka: Nicole Mrzywka and Hughie, her English Springer Spaniel, are pictured after competing at the Westminster Dog Show. Mrzywka made it to the final eight in the junior showmanship competition.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 February 2019 at 10:01 am

Nicole Mrzywka advanced to final 8 out of 102 in junior showmanship competition

NEW YORK – A Holley High School senior who competed at the Westminster Dog Show is calling the experience, “a dream come true.”

Nicole Mrzywka, 17, has been showing dogs since she was 9, starting with the Orleans County 4-H program. On Tuesday she was on the biggest stage for dog shows, the prestigious Westminster event that is broadcast on television.

Nicole qualified to be one of 102 youths in the junior showmanship competition. She needed to win seven American Kennel Club sanctioned events to qualify.

The 102 youths in the competition were separated into groups of four with about 25 in each group. The top two from each group advanced to the finals.

Nicole was picked for that exclusive group – the final eight. She and Hughie, her English Springer Spaniel, were able to compete in the main ring at Madison Square Garden. She received a $500 scholarship for making it to the finals.

Nicole Mrzywka and Hughie compete at the Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

She was judged on how well she presented her dog in confirmation how Hughie meets the standards of the breed.

“It’s all about smoothness and how you react with your dog and how you handle it if he acts up,” Nicole said by phone this morning.

She has competed at big dog shows before in Philadelphia and in Florida at the national championship for the American Kennel Club. The Westminster show is considered the Super Bowl of dog shows, she said.

She expects to be back next year in her final year as a junior. She has already won six events this year and only needs one more to qualify for Westminster in 2020.

Nicole said she is grateful for the friendships she has made at the dog shows, from the local 4-H club to the bigger national events.

“Getting into the dog show world, you meet so many people who really become a second family,” she said.

The Holley senior wants to be an elementary school teacher. She is planning to major in early childhood education in college.

Two benefits of being a teacher: “I’d get weekends and summers off for dog shows,” Nicole said.

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