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GBHS Panther Forensics continues successful season

Great Bend High School forensics students have continued raising the bar this season, earning first-place team awards as overall top school at both Hoisington and Clay Center in March. In addition, individuals took home top eight honors in the West Kansas District Congressional Debate tournament.

Coach Kim Heath believes that commitment to improvement is playing a huge role in the team’s continued victories.

“I think what contributed to our success was our understanding that every critique from a judge is an opportunity to improve,” Heath said. “The students are challenging themselves and branching out to try new areas and skills. While we have only three seniors on our team, our strong focus on growth and individual improvement at tournaments has really increased the likelihood of each individual, no matter what their level, placing in the top six.”

On Saturday, March 5, the Panther Forensics team made the short trip to Hoisington and brought home their third first-place Sweepstakes trophy of the season.

Freshman Darcy Feist had a terrific day and captured gold medals in both Prose and Oration. Another freshman, Reese King, placed 2nd in Informative. Other GBHS Freshmen finding success included Lea Nokes with a 5th-place in Serious Solo Acting and 4th-place in Program of Oral Interpretation (POI); Analeah Ochs finished 6th in POI.

Sophomores Sachary Benefield placed 4th and Chanler Riley placed 5th in Informative Speaking. Maddix Pokorski, a junior, won 1st in Extemp, 2nd in POI and 3rd in Impromptu Speaking. Eave Taylor, also a junior, won 1st in POI and finished 6th in Impromptu.  

Also earning points towards the sweepstakes trophy at Hoisington were Rebeca Rodriguez, Justin Chanka, Theo Hopkinson-Smith and Dalton Ruble.

Congressional Debate tournament

On Friday, March 10, the forensics team competed in the last Congressional debate tournament of the season. At the West Kansas NSDA District Congress held in Andover, Isaiah Smith finished 4th in the Senate, and Malachi Wasson placed 6th in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, Thomas Henikson placed 10th. Also representing GBHS in the House were Alondra Alvarez, Milena Carbajal and Xanna Smith. Unfortunately, the placings were not high enough to qualify any of the Panther debaters for nationals at this time.  

“My students have the ideal mindset to just be in the present and do the best they can in whatever event is in front of them,” said coach Heath. “Doing well in this tournament was an assurance that we are on the right track and will do well at the West Kansas District Individual Events tournament in April.”

Clay Center tournament

Bringing home another sweepstakes trophy, the Panther Forensics team won the Clay Center tournament on Saturday, March 12. 

The Panthers swept first and second place in several different events. Wasson and Smith won Duet Acting, and Alvarez and Carbajal were second. In Impromptu Speaking, the varsity team members switched places. Alvarez was first, Carbajal second, Smith fifth and Wasson sixth. Wasson also captured the first-place medal in Humorous Solo Acting, and Taylor placed second.  

In Original Oration, Alvarez brought home a silver medal. In Extemporaneous Speaking, Xanna Smith placed 1st. Teammates Angel Palacio and Ryan Armendariz finished 5th and 6th. In Informative Speaking, Isaiah Smith, was 1st and Hopkinson-Smith placed 4th.

Others bringing home hardware for GBHS include: Rebeca Rodriguez and Ochs, 5th in Duet Acting; Xanna Smith, 3rd in POI; Rodriguez, 6th in Poetry and Serious Solo Acting; Carbajal, 3rd in Serious Solo Acting. Also earning points toward the sweepstakes trophy were Chanka and Riley.

Each of the new gold or silver medals represents a new qualification for the KSHSAA State Speech Championship in May. The Panthers now have a full team qualified for the tournament.  

Great Bend High School Forensics students are taking a break until their next competitions on April 2 at Wichita East and St. John High School.