MHS speech, debaters find success during season

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Early placings position squad for upcoming conference meet

The Monett High School speech and debate program has had an active year in preparation for Big 8 Conference competition later this month.

Under Coach T.J. Lakin in his first year at Monett, and Annie Smith, assistant coach, students went to their first tournament Oct. 13-14. All the novice students advanced to semi-finals in at least one event. Melissa Hurtado took first place in performance and oral interpretation (POI), while Leo Amador and Cameron George claimed third in policy debate.

The following wee at Republic, the novices again all advanced to semi-finals in at least one event. Hurtado took second in POI. Amador was fourth in formative speaking. Katie Smith took fifth in foreign extemporaneous speaking.

The next meet took the team to Lee's Summit North and West. Almost all the novices advanced to the semi-finals but went no further. Alyssa Kelley placed fourth in dramatic interpretation.

Competing at Missouri State University Nov. 17 and 18, Marcus Isbell, competing for the first time in championship Lincoln-Douglas debate, went undefeated and placed fourth overall. Kelley took fifth place in humorous interpretation. Hurtado placed fourth in POI.

Students opened December running Monett's Priscilla Bradford Tournament. Lakin extended appreciation to participating judges, volunteers and donors for making the event "a great success."

At Crowder College in Neosho Dec. 8 and 9, Ben Verstraete advanced undefeated in Lincoln-Douglas debate, placing fourth overall. He also advanced to semi-finals in U.S. extemporaneous speaking.

At the Carthage/Webb City tournament on Jan. 5 and 6, the team faced Springfield and Kansas City area competitors in one of the state's biggest meets. Again, almost all the novices advanced to the semi-finals. Verstraete placed fifth in humorous interpretation. Nya Saturley took sixth in the same event. Several barely missed reaching the finals, Lakin said.

At the Parkview Central tournament in Springfield Jan. 19 and 20, Hurtado claimed first place, earning that assessment from all of the judges on the panel, for her "Dignidad" or "Latina Proud" POI entry. Amardo and Joe Bricker entered their duo piece "Ways to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse" for the first time, advancing to the semi-finals. Kelley barely missed advancing in dramatic interpretation.

Next the team headed to Jefferson City Jan. 26 and 27, one of the state's biggest events. Hurtado reached the semi-finals in POI. Verstraete won three rounds and lost one in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Out of 80 students entered, Verstraete finished 12, just short of the eighth place cut to advance.

Next the squad will head to Joplin on Feb. 16 and 17, then to the Big 8 meet in Seneca on Feb. 19. The squad presenting one-act plays will go to the annual competition on Feb. 22 at Crowder College in Neosho, and then to the invitational tournament in Neosho Feb. 23 and 24. After that come opportunities to qualify for state and national competition.

"I'm very proud of the debaters," Lakin said. "When they work hard, they succeed."

"This is a fun team to see," Smith added. "They support each other."