Four members of the Mercer High School Speech Team were finalists in Pennsylvania High School Speech League’s 51st annual State Tournament March 23 and 24 on the campus of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove.

More than 775 students from nearly 125 school districts took part. Most of the participants were either first-, second-, or third-place winners in individual speaking events or debate competitions at 13 district qualifying tournaments held in late February.

Ten of the 15 Mercer speakers advanced into elimination rounds, beginning with quarterfinals in radio and impromptu and semifinals in all other events. Five placed in the top 12 in the state in their events while four others ranked at least in the top four.

The Mercer team was recognized at the tournament’s awards ceremony for second place for the annual Jeanne M. Lutz Award, presented to the school that accumulates the greatest number of team sweepstakes points at the state tournament over a period of years. Mercer will be in first place for the Lutz Award entering the 2013 state tournament.

Junior Orion Anderson, competing for the first time in radio announcing, turned in the top performance among Mercer speakers, placing second out of 75 competitors.

In duo interpretation the team of senior Brandon Little and junior Andrew Roseman placed fourth in their category. They placed in the top four teams at all 10 of their trophy tournaments during the season. .

Junior Teresa Morin won the fourth place award in commentary.

Five other Mercer speakers placed in the top 12 statewide in their events, but were eliminated in semifinals. They were:

• Senior dramatic interpreter Kate Adams.

• Junior persuasive speaker Anna Conner.

• Sophomore extemporaneous speaker Maddie Hessman.

• Freshman humorous interpreter Adam Hoge.

• Ninth-grader Kendra Walker who  missed qualifying for the final round in dramatic interpretation by one point.

Ian Ollila, a Mercer freshman competing for the first time in impromptu speaking, advanced to a quarterfinal round (top 24).

Three annual variety shows, “Two Evenings Of Forensics,” are set for 7 p.m. April 13 and 14 in the high school auditorium. The 90-minute shows will feature a different cast of performers each evening who will present speeches and interpretations which have won awards at forensics competitions during the season. A dessert reception will follow. Tickets are available from any speech team member or speech parent and in the high school office during school hours.

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