By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
GBHS forensics qualifies eight members for nationals
The GBHS forensics team competed in the district qualifier in Hutchinson on April 21 and 22. Team members include, back row, from left: Quinton Heath, Maddix Pokorski, Eave Taylor, Thomas Henrikson, Darcy Feist, Xanna Smith and Ailey Williams. Front row: Hannah Hopkins, Anna Bitter, Reese King, Milena Carbajal and Alondra Alvarez.

Twelve Great Bend High School forensics students traveled to Hutchinson High on April 21 and 22 to compete at the West Kansas District Qualifier. The event was a resounding success for the Panther Speech Team, coach Kim Health said. GBHS qualified eight members for the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament to be held this June in Phoenix, Ariz.

The competition was intense with some of the best forensics students from across the district vying for a chance to qualify for the national tournament, Heath said. The GBHS forensics team rose to the challenge, showcasing their skills and hard work to earn their tickets to nationals.

Senior Maddix Pokorski won International Extemporaneous Speaking. Senior Xanna Smith took second place in Dramatic Interpretation with a piece about the Sandy Hook shooting. Senior Alondra Alvarez qualified in Oration with a persuasive speech about America’s gifted education program.

Senior Eave Taylor and Junior Thomas Henrikson placed 2nd in Duo Interpretation. Their scene is an adaptation of Mark Twain’s, “Diary of Adam and Eve.” The team secured both national qualifiers in the Program of Oral Interpretation (POI) event. Sophomore Anna Bitter’s POI highlighted the problem of domestic violence, while sophomore Darcy Feist shared a POI about body dysmorphic disorder.

Feist also won the Oration event but has chosen to compete with her POI at nationals. Finally, freshman Quinton Heath qualified in Dramatic Interpretation with an anti-bullying piece about being true to one’s self.   

Additionally, as a team, the squad brought home another first place sweepstakes trophy – winning in a landslide over stiff competition from all across Western Kansas. The number of sweepstakes points earned by the Panthers was nearly as much as the second and third place teams combined.

“We had a fantastic weekend at the West Kansas District National Qualifying Tournament,” coach Heath said, “We took 18 total entries and 13 of them were in finals. Each of my students has displayed exceptional skill and determination; and we are thrilled that they have the opportunity to compete at the national level.”   

Also competing for the Panthers was junior Milena Carbajal. She finished as the first alternate in Dramatic Interpretation. Freshman Hannah Hopkins placed 7th in Domestic Extemporaneous speaking. Sophomore Reese King earned points for the team in Informative Speaking, and Hopkins and sophomore Ailey Williams competed in Duo Interpretation. 

The NSDA National Tournament is one of the most prestigious events in the world of forensics, attracting top talent from across the country. Nearly 6,000 competitors from across the nation from over 2,000 schools will come together for the five-day competition. The GBHS Forensics team’s success this season is a testament to their hard work, and support of their families and peers. 

This accomplishment is also a reflection of the high-quality education and well-rounded curriculum that GBHS provides. Forensics is a challenging and competitive activity that requires a diverse set of skills, including critical thinking, research, communication, and performance. The students excelled not only because of their work in the forensics classroom, but also because of the skills that they have learned from all of their teachers at GBHS.

Next up for Panther Squad is the prestigious Forensics Coaches Invitational to be held in Buhler on April 29. The students will use this as an opportunity to warm-up for the state championship tournament, which will take place during the first weekend of May.