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Great Bend Sophomore competes at National Speech & Debate Competition
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Ashtin waiting for elimination round postings in the ballroom at the tournament with other students

Great Bend High School Sophomore Ashtin Heath competed at the National Speech and Debate Tournament held in Dallas, Texas from July 13 to July 19, in Dramatic Interpretation.
There are approximately 1 million active National Speech and Debate Association Members and only 5,000 members qualify to the national tournament. It is a huge accomplishment to qualify for the national tournament and very impressive that Heath as a Sophomore accomplished that task. Ashtin Heath competed in Dramatic Interpretation against 249 students from across the nation. Ashtin said, “My serious performance was from a selection entitled “Heart of a Dog” and involved a young death girl searching for acceptance.”
As a supplemental event, Ashtin competed in Prose Interpretation. There were 496 contestants in the event. Ashtin made it into the elimination rounds and finished in the top 256 which was about the top 50% in the event. She also competed in the consolation event of storytelling against 576 students. Students needed to place first through third out of seven competitors in their sections to advance to the next round of competition. Ashtin placed fourth in her very competitive section and barely missed advancing to the next round.
Great Bend High School Forensics Coach Barbara Watson said, “The tournament is very competitive and everyone that has qualified is very talented. The styles of acting from the different states varies and the judging preferences from coaches across the nation also varies. It is randomly selected by the computer what sections you get into and who your judges are.
That is beyond your control. The only thing you can control is your performance. Ashtin prepared and did her very best to control that. She practiced for three weeks before the tournament for at least one hour every day. She never skipped a practice. For one and a half weeks of those practices many former forensics students and community members came in and orally critiqued her. In addition, her parents and many office secretaries also came in and offered suggestions for her performances. Her mother, Kim Heath, also accompanied Ashtin at the tournament and watched her in every round of her 10 rounds of national competition.”  
Ashtin’s mother, Kim Heath, said, “Ashtin is blessed to have such an outstanding coach and support from the Great Bend community. Mrs. Watson spent hours working with Ashtin to perfect her performances. Ashtin was honored to represent Great Bend High School.  
Mrs. Watson was selected from the thousands of coaches at the tournament to be on the finals round judges panel of 13 coaches in humorous interpretation. Coaches are selected to judge finals based on the number of diamond degrees they have acquired and the number of students they have had in semi-finals and finals. It is a huge honor to be selected as a coach to judge finals. Mrs. Watson said it was a very exciting experience to judge the final round and that she also enjoyed watching her student Ashtin compete in most of her rounds.
Ashtin had a great support system before the tournament and during the tournament. Mrs. Watson watched eight of her 10 rounds of competition in between her judging assignments. Mrs. Watson stated, “Ashtin did her very best every single round and just kept getting better with each performance. I was very impressed with her level of confidence, maturity and focus against the level of the national competition as a sophomore. I know all of her practicing and preparation work for the tournament was a big contributing factor for her success. I was extremely proud of her. I know it was a valuable learning experience and I hope she will have the opportunity to qualify again because she will just keep getting better.”
Ashtin’s mother added, “The national tournament was an outstanding learning experience for Ashtin.  She observed amazing performances from her peers and viewed many cultural, theatrical, and historical sites in Dallas.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.”