The Mercer High School Speech Team opened post-season competition Saturday by qualifying eight members to the Pennsylvania High School Speech League state tournament during District 1’s annual qualifying tournament at Pine-Richland High School, Gibsonia. District 1 includes member schools in Mercer, Butler, Crawford, and Erie counties.
First- and second-place winners in nine events earned the right to compete at the state tournament March 28 and 29 at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove. Mercer speakers captured eight of the 18 available slots in District 1. Mercer placed first in five of the nine events and won second place in three events.
Mercer won first place in three of the five interpretive events.
Sophomore Janalyn Miklas won her first District 1 championship in dramatic interpretation with two first places and a second, winning by 4 points.
In poetry interpretation senior Ryan Micsky was awarded the championship plaque with first-place rankings from all three of his preliminary round judges and a first and two seconds from the three final-round judges.
Junior Ian Ollila won his fourth tournament championship of the season in humorous interpretation, being named the top performer in all three of his rounds.
Mercer speakers also captured firsts in two events.
Senior Maddie Hessmann won her second consecutive District 1 championship in extemporaneous speaking, being named the best speaker in all three rounds of current events speaking.
Freshman Rachel Bish won her second tournament title in as many weeks, annexing top honors in informative speaking. She was also named the top ranking speaker in all three rounds, winning by 4 points.
Three Mercer speakers won runner-up honors in their specialties, which will earn them a trip to state competition. Sophomore Emily Kirila won second place in persuasive speaking; senior Bradley Thompson took first, second and fourth in his three rounds of prose interpretation; and in commentary, sophomore Ryan Hamilton received first-, second-, and third- place rankings to place second overall.
Three Mercer speakers were recognized as alternates to the state tournament in their events – juniors Kendra Walker in dramatic interpretation and Sabrina Yassem in informative, and freshman Elizabeth Ludwig in persuasive.
This weekend, 19 Mercer speakers in grades nine through 12 will compete in the Catholic Forensic League of Erie’s National Qualifying Tournament at Gannon University. First-, second- and third-place winners in each of the six individual speaking events will earn a trip to the National Catholic Forensic League’s Grand National Tournament to be held in Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend. Mercer has placed first at 21 of the last 22 Erie Diocesan championship tournaments.