The Mercer High School speech team returned to trophy tournament competition following the holiday break by placing third in speech team sweepstakes at the Ninth Annual North Allegheny Invitational held Jan. 11 in Wexford.
More than 215 students from 25 high schools in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia took part in the four-round tournament. Wheeling Park (W.Va.) High School placed first in speech sweepstakes with 188 points. Host North Allegheny was runner-up with 166 points and Mercer was third with 155 points.
The day-long competition featured three preliminary rounds in each of the seven individual speaking events followed by a final round with the top five to seven speakers in each event meeting head-to-head before a three-judge panel. Four Mercer speakers received trophies for placing in the final rounds. Seven other Mercer speakers narrowly missed qualifying for the final rounds.
Leading the way for Mercer was senior extemporaneous speaker and team president, Maddie Hessmann, who placed second in her specialty, international extemp speaking. Maddie was awarded two firsts and a second in her three preliminary rounds. In the finals she received a first, second and fifth from the three judges.
In original oratory, freshman Elizabeth Ludwig captured her second consecutive award of the young season with a third- place finish. After receiving two firsts and a second in preliminary rounds, Elizabeth was given two seconds and a fifth in the finals.
Mercer junior Kendra Walke won her second award of the season with a sixth place in dramatic interpretation. Kendra ranked first on two of three ballots in prelim rounds; in the final round she received a third, a fourth, and a sixth.
Eighth-grader Mary Hogue turned in the best performance of her two-year speech tenure by placing sixth in United States extemporaneous speaking. Mary was given firsts in two of three preliminary rounds before placing sixth in the finals.
Seven other Mercer speakers narrowly missed qualifying for final rounds in their events: junior Sarah Miller, sophomore Janalyn Miklas and sixth-grader Evan Daugherty, who all placed in the top nine in dramatic interpretation; junior Ian Ollila, who was seventh in humorous interpretation; sophomore Emily Kirila (tied for sixth) and freshman Rachel Bish (tied for 10th) among 48 entrants in original oratory; and senior Ryan Micsky, who tied for eighth in oral interpretation (prose and poetry).
On Jan. 8 Mercer traveled to Erie’s Harbor Creek School to take part in their second Catholic Forensic League tournament of the season. Mercer speakers won or tied for first place in four of the five speech events, thus becoming eligible for $200 scholarships to Gannon University. They were Rachel Bish in original oratory, Maddie Hessmann in extemporaneous speaking, Ian Ollila in dramatic performance and senior Bradley Thompson in oral interpretation.
Mercer speakers continue in trophy trounament competition Saturday at the annual Pine-Richland High School Invitational in Gibsonia.