Speech teams do well at competition

It’s the final push, the last-ditch effort to get as many speakers, debaters, poetry readers and duets through to the next level as possible. It’s a time when creative students get to compete with others of their kind through well-rehearsed skits and oratories. It’s the last set of speech and debate competitions before regionals.   

The speech and debate team, coached by Shep Pamplin, has been going to several of these district tournaments, most recently at Ardmore the weekend of Jan. 9 and at Quentin the weekend of Jan. 23.

At these competitions, students compete in different events, ranging from poetry and prose reading to humorous duets to Lincoln-Douglas debating. Those who perform well enough in their events qualify to compete in up to three of them at the regional competition on March 11 and 12.

According to Pamplin, the team is trying to get as many people as they can qualified for regionals in as many events as possible.

“I require three events out of each person,” he said. “So what they did not qualify for at Ardmore, they’re trying to qualify for at Quentin.”

This effort has resulted in nearly the entire team qualifying for regionals. The high qualification rate has happened even though most of the team is new to speech and debate. According to Pamplin, five seniors, who made up more than half of the team, graduated last year.

“[Now] a lot of them are freshmen, and the fact that they’re out there competing and qualifying as freshmen means I’ve got three more years where they can really rock the boat,” he said.

Junior Ryan Kerr, who has qualified for four things at regionals, feels optimistic about the future of the team.

“We have a few rough patches every now and then,” he said. “A lot of freshmen, so there’s a lot of training, but they’ll be a good team in a year or so.”

By many accounts, the Quentin meet was not only a time of competition, but it was also very enjoyable. According to senior Jacob Fitzgerald, the team stayed in cabins themed after the tourist attraction Robbers’ Cave.

“The cabins were really rustic to fit the Robber’s Cave mood,” he said. “Everyone had a really good time, and we drank more coffee than we really should have. It was a bit stressful and by the end I think everyone was glad to go home.”

With regionals on their minds, the team is looking forward to that competition and the opportunities beyond.

Kerr is excited for the next level of competition.

“We’re looking forward to regionals,” Kerr said. “I have really high expectations, thinking that a lot of us can qualify for state.”