The Mercer High School Speech Team made its Fourth Invitational Tournament appearance in the new year on Feb. 1 as 15 speakers traveled to Saxonburg, Pa., to compete in the Second Annual Knoch High School Invitational. Dubbed the “Knoch Knights Groundhog Day Joust,” the event attracted over 185 speakers from 21 schools in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.
Speakers competed in three preliminary rounds and a final round in seven individual speaking events. Awards were presented to all finalists. Five Mercer speakers advanced to final rounds in the highly competitive day-long tournament, with Mercer winning one first place and a pair of seconds and thirds.
In dramatic interpretation, Mercer’s dynamic duo of sophomore Janalyn Miklas and junior Kendra Walker continued their early season dominance in the event, winning first and second place plaques. Janalyn received two first place rankings and a second from her three judges in preliminary rounds and a first and two seconds from the three judges in finals to win the event by three points. Janalyn has won top-five place awards at four of five invitationals this season, including firsts at two of the four tournaments. Kendra was awarded two first places and a second in prelim rounds and a first, third and fourth in finals to win second place honors. Kendra has been a top-six place winner at all five invitationals this year, including first place winner at the Mercer Rotary Tournament.
Mercer won two of the top three places in prose interpretation. Eighth grader Maddie Rowe placed for the third time in five outings this year with a second place finish at Knoch. After receiving two first places and a third in preliminary rounds, Maddie’s second, third, and fifth place ranks in finals earned her runner-up honors. Senior Ryan Micsky placed for the fourth time in five invitationals. After receiving seconds in two of three preliminary rounds, Ryan was given a first, third, and fourth in finals to finish one point behind his teammate.
In humorous interpretation junior Lan Ollila won the third place award with a first, second, and third in preliminary rounds and two thirds and a fourth in finals. Ollila has been a model of consistency as well in the first half of the season, placing in the top three at four of rive invitationals, including first places at two tournaments
Two other Mercer speakers turned in good performances, but did not qualify for finals. In original oratory freshman Elizabeth Ludwig received first, second, and fifth place rankings in preliminary rounds; and senior extemporaneous speaker Maddie Hessmann missed out on qualifying for the final round by one point.