MERCER – The Mercer High School speech team opened its 2014-15 forensics season Dec. 13 in impressive fashion by winning the team sweepstakes championship at the 40th Annual Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic Invitational. The three-round competition attracted more than 130 speakers from 21 public and parochial high schools in western Pennsylvania.

Eleven of Mercer’s 24 students placed in the top-10 ranking of speakers/performers in their chosen individual events. Mercer had seven award winners (top six placewinners) in the seven speaking events, including two first-place winners, a second-place winner and two third-place winners.

Team sweepstakes, which was based on the school’s top 10 entries in all events, was divided into large school (15 or more total entries) and small schools (14 or fewer entries). Mercer, which has one of the lowest student enrollments of all schools participating, won first-place honors in the “large school” division, edging out Fox Chapel. Pine-Richland and Mount Lebanon won top honors in “small school” competition.

Mercer’s dynamic dramatic and humorous interpretation entrants paced the team to victory, winning first places in both events, and four awards overall. In dramatic interpretation Mercer swept the top two places.

Junior Janalyn Miklas won with two firsts and a second in three rounds of competition. She was awarded 71 quality points out of a possible 75. Senior Kendra Walker placed second in dramatic with one first and two seconds. Meanwhile, in humorous interpretation, senior Ian Ollila won the first-place plaque with two firsts and a second in three rounds and 73 quality points out of 75. Freshman Andrew Brinker rebounded from a slow start in round one with first- and second-place rankings in rounds two and three to place fourth.

In duo interpretation the Mercer team made up of senior Adam Hoge and junior Ryan Hamilton won the third place awards with two first place rankings and a fourth and 66 quality points out of 75.

Mercer’s seventh place winner was 8th grader Caleb Miklas who won sixth place honors in poetry interpretation with second place rankings in all three of his rounds along with 68 quality points.

Four other Mercer speakers placed in the top ten in their events. They included freshman Kate Shaffer, 7th place in dramatic interp; freshman Maddie Rowe 8th in dramatic interp, and junior Emily Kirila and sophomore Elizabeth Ludwig who tied for 10th place in original oratory.

Mercer was scheduled to host its annual Erie Catholic Forensic league tournament Dec. 11, but the two-round event was cancelled due to the winter snowstorm in northwestern Pennsylvania (Erie and Crawford Counties).

Mercer speakers will take part in one more tournament before the holidays as they return to Pittsburgh Dec. 20 to compete in the 1st Annual Sterner Steel City Invitational at Central Catholic High School. Schools from the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas are expected to attend this four-round competition

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