Flipping and pitching in a beauty pageant

LINN CREEK, Mo. — When the judges of the Little Miss Dogwood pageant asked Ilsa Clare Grave, 6, what she wanted to do when she grew up, she told them she wanted to win the Bassmaster Classic.

Her answer seems logical enough considering her dad, Jay Grave, and her grandpa, Jim Grave, both compete in Bass Pro Shops Central Opens and Ilsa enjoys watching her hero, Kevin VanDam, on The Bassmasters television show.

“She also likes Brandon Palaniuk but she can’t say his last name,” said Elizabeth Grave, Ilsa’s mother.

Ilsa won the Little Miss Dogwood pageant and the Heartland Sweetheart contest — a regional pageant that qualified her for the Miss Princess of America National Pageant in Branson, Mo., in August. The national pageant includes a talent show, so Ilsa had to figure out what she would do for the judges.

“She can’t tap dance,” said Elizabeth. “She can sing but she sings like a 6-year-old.”

Ilsa knows her best talent is fishing so she plans on performing a flipping and pitching routine at the national pageant.

National pageant contestants must also be involved in a pageant platform (community service project), so Ilsa and her sister, Isabella, started Bows and Ties, an organization created to “enrich the moments between dads and daughters.” Ilsa and Jay have scheduled a Bows and Ties Bass Tournament, Aug. 2, at Lake of the Ozarks to benefit her organization. More details about the tournament are available at www.bowsandties.org.

Jay took Ilsa fishing when they lived in Minnesota, and she caught her first bass at the age of 3.

“She is a great little fisherman for her age,” said Jay, who now guides on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. “I like to tell people she could tie a Palomar knot before she could tie her shoes.”

Ilsa said she likes bass fishing “because it is fun.” She is unsure if she likes bass fishing or beauty pageants more, so Ilsa plans on doing both for a while. Elizabeth noted that although her daughter is only a first-grader in the Camdenton School District, she has her eyes on the high school’s bass fishing club, which is coached by former Bassmaster Classic qualifier Chad Brauer.

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