The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 22, 2014

Speakers take 3rd, to host event Saturday


MERCER — The Mercer High School speech team recorded a fine performance Saturday as Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia hosted its annual invitational tournament.

Mercer placed third out of 31 schools with 98 points, narrowly edging out Allegheny High School of Wexford. Two Pittsburgh schools, Mount Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, placed first and second, respectively.

More than 275 speakers from throughout western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia took part in a highly competitive four-round forensic event.

Eight Mercer speakers won awards for placing in the top seven of their events. All speakers competed in three preliminary rounds in each of the eight individual speaking events. The top six or seven performers in each event after three rounds of speaking advanced to a final round, which was evaluated by a three-judge panel.

Mercer senior Bradley Thompson recorded the best performance of his five-year speech career as he took first place out of 47 competitors in prose interpretation. He received two firsts and a second in preliminary rounds. In the final round, competing against six others, judges awarded him two firsts and a second to win by six points. Mercer eighth-grader Madeline Rowe also was a finalist in prose, finishing seventh. She received first, second and third in preliminary rounds.

Two Mercer speakers took second place in their events. In poetry interpretation, senior Ryan Micsky advanced to the final round with second-place rankings in each of his preliminary rounds. In the final round, Ryan received two firsts and a fifth to finish one point behind the winner in the field of 74 poetry contestants. In humorous interpretation, junior Ian Ollila also placed second, earning a second, first and fourth in the early rounds and a first, third and fourth in the finals.

Three of the six finalists in the highly competitive dramatic interpretation were Mercer speakers. Junior Kendra Walker and sophomore Janalyn Miklas tied for fourth; Janalyn was first in all three preliminary rounds while Kendra was first, second and third in prelims and received a third and two fourths in the finals. Mercer junior Sarah Miller was sixth, receiving a first and two thirds in the prelims.

In original oratory, a first-year speaker, eighth-grader Anna Brunson, recorded her finest performance of the season with a first and two seconds in the early rounds. Competing in an upperclassmen-dominated final round, Anna remained competitive with second-, fourth- and sixth-place rankings to earn fourth overall.

During the awards ceremony, long-time Mercer assistant coach Dan Davis received special recognition from the Pine-Richland forensics team for his more than 15 years of dedicated service to the Mercer speech program and to forensics in general throughout western Pennsylvania. Davis, a Mercer speech team competitor while in high school, serves as Mercer’s extemporaneous speaking coordinator and is in charge of extemporaneous speaking preparation rooms at many large invitational tournaments during the season.

On Saturday, Mercer will host its 40th Individual Events Trophy Tournament, which is annually sponsored by Mercer Rotary Club and open to the public. More than 250 speakers from an estimated 25 high schools throughout western Pennsylvania are expected to compete.

The tournament, which begins at 9 a.m., will feature competition in eight speaking events plus student congress and public forum debate. Three rounds of competition will be held in all speaking events. The final round opens at 2 p.m., with an awards assembly at approximately 3:30 p.m. Mercer is defending tournament champion but expects to be contested on Saturday by Pittsburgh speech powers Mount Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, North Allegheny and Pine-Richland.