Chesterton Tribune



CHS Speech team wins State Championship

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The Chesterton High School Speech and Debate team made this season a clean sweep after claiming the Indiana High School Forensics Association’s Ralph Lawson trophy as the top overall team at the State Speech Tournament. The team had previously won the state debate title in February. The team amassed a tournament high 152 points to narrowly defeat Fisher’s High School (150 points) and defending state champion Munster High School (148 points).

The narrow margin of victory speaks volumes about the performance of Chesterton’s team. Individuals qualify for the state tournament through the sectional competition Đ the top six in each event advance to state. Chesterton’s sectional is widely regarded as the most difficult in the state; this is due in large part to the inclusion of both Chesterton and Munster in the same section. Sixty-five schools out of the over 100 registered in the state were able to qualify entries into the state tournament. At the tournament, competitors accumulate one point when they reach top 24, (quarterfinals) and score 3 points if they reach the top 12 (semifinals). Those that advance into finals score points on an increasing scale based upon their final placing. Chesterton had eleven non-advancing quarterfinals, eight non-advancing semifinalists, twelve finalists, and four individual championships.

The event of impromptu started off a night of celebration for the team after they claimed the top two spots in final round. Hayden Hodge, a senior, took the overall title in the event that forces students to deliver a five-minute speech off of only thirty seconds of preparation. Hodge was also the state runner-up in United States extemporaneous speaking. Katelyn Balakir was the state runner-up in the impromptu and Connor Wantuch was a semifinalist. The performance in this event granted Chesterton 24 total sweepstakes points; a significant margin considering that no other team scored more than 9 points in this event. This was Chesterton’s second consecutive title in the event.

Senior Noelle Friel was crowned the top Orator in the state; claiming the title after performing her original oratory “One Story at a Time.” The subject of her ten-minute speech is the damage that we do when we ‘build walls’ around ourselves. Friel was also able to place fifth overall in the event of Programed Oral Interpretation (POI). Teammate and fellow senior Natalie Beglin joined her in the final claiming fifth place overall in Oratory and was a semifinalist in POI. This is the team’s first state title in Oratory since 2010.

For the second year in a row Hannah Geiss, a junior, proved herself as the best in the state in the event of discussion. The event has students compete in roundtable discussions in the form of a Socratic seminar. Throughout the tournament students are expected to discuss a diverse set of issues including the arts, science, mass media, philosophy, current events, and popular culture.

Chesterton’s fourth title came from a pair of seniors Keerat Basra and Megan Bernth in the event Original Performance (OP). Just like Original Oratory, this event shows off student’s writing ability as the students write their own ten-minute play and then perform it. Basra and Bernth’s performance, titled “Meera,” borrows heavily from their friendship and families. Chesterton had last won OP in its inaugural year in 2004. Sophomore Allen Smith was able to advance to quarterfinals in OP, and Bernth was also a semifinalist in the event of Prose.

Chesterton’s second highest point total came from the event of Humorous Interpretation. Senior Izzy Portugal and junior Josh Hogan both advanced and performed in the final round, with Portugal placing third and Hogan coming in fourth overall. Sophomore Allen Smith was able to advance to the semifinal round of humor and junior Amber Johnson finished as a quarterfinalist in the event.

Josh Hogan also made the final of Duo Interpretation with his partner Logan Summers. Their interpretation and performance of ‘The Book of Mormon,’ earned them the honor of third place in the state. Portugal and her partner senior Karly Carden as well as the team of freshmen Anna Leady and AJ Stirling made it to quarterfinals in Duo.

Senior Angel Smith made it into state final round in the event of Poetry, placing third overall. Smith was also in a semifinalist in POI. Junior Paige Donovan made it to the semifinals of Dramatic Interpretation; while Carden and senior James Van Drie finished as quarterfinalists. Van Drie was also a semifinalist in Poetry.

Madi Ghoreshi made it to semifinals in International Extemporaneous Speaking while Wantuch was a quarterfinalist. Juniors Bryn Jackson and Natalia Wadowski both advanced to the quarterfinals in Informative Speaking. Juniors Aaron Drew and Paul Petro were quarterfinalists in Radio Broadcasting and senior Nate Scheerer narrowly missed the quarterfinal and placed 28th overall. Similarly, Chloe Thomas missed the quarterfinal cut by one spot; placing 25th overall in the tournament.

Coach Lowery honored

The honors didn’t end with the team’s recognition, however. Program Director Chris Lowery was recognized as the state’s Speech and Debate Educator of the Year by the National Federation Interscholastic Speech and Debate Association. Principal Jeff Van Drie was able to attend the award’s ceremony to see both the team and Coach Lowery honored.

“I have had the opportunity to be a part of so many state championships and it never gets old. This is a very special group of young people who made up their minds that this was their year and they made it happen. But it was an especially rewarding year because two of our coaches, Eric Schaefer and Kayla Fleming, were members of our last overall championship team in 2007. They and the rest of the coaching staff worked with these incredible young people to build a team that understands that work ethic and a positive attitude can make you a winner,” said Coach Bob Kelly.

This is the team’s 24th state speech title. The team had last won the division title (AAA - Large School) in 2010 but had not won the overall team title since 2007. Munster was named champions for the AA division and Evansville Mater Dei won the small school title (A).

Chesterton’s coaching staff includes Rebecca Uehling, Eric Shaefer, Kayla Fleming, Robert Kelly, Sam Lee, Josh Coots, Dakota McCoy, and Chris Lowery.



Posted 3/13/2017




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