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KK Smith ready to take Murray State by the reins

Mar. 9—The spirit of a rodeo champion resides in an Empire High School senior who will now focus on furthering her education at Murray State College in Tishomingo this fall.

KK Smith, 18, signed her letter of intent for the rodeo program with Murray State on March 6.

Smith said she's taken part in the rodeo since she was four years old, but she's competed since she was six.

Born into the rodeo circuit, Smith said it's something her family has always done together.

She said she loves the competitive part of the rodeo.

"You meet your friends that become your family," she said.

With family in her corner, Smith said her grandpa and her dad have inspired her over the years to achieve her goals.

"They both have always done rodeo and they just always push me to do better," she said.

This summer, Smith will take part in nationals.

"Hopefully be a national champ and just do some college rodeos and make nationals in that," she said.

With four saddles and numerous belt buckles, Smith said she went to nationals last year in Gillette, Wyoming and was a reserve champion.

Empire High School Principal Tim Whaley said Smith epitomizes what they are about at the high school.

"Our values and our character — I haven't met one student campus-wide that doesn't know of her or doesn't look up to her," he said. "She gets along with everyone and she's viewed as a leader."

Whaley said Smith is a great student with a high grade point average.

"I'm very excited to see where this takes her," he said.

He said she's competed and participated for many years with the rodeo.