Four qualify for national speech and debate tournament

Meet in Albuquerque will take place in June

Speech and debate Head Coach Mrs. Jeanne Malone stands with three of the four qualifiers for Nationals: Victory Sampson, Lauren Dubbink and Nick Grill. Madison Ackley is not pictured.

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Speech and debate Head Coach Mrs. Jeanne Malone stands with three of the four qualifiers for Nationals: Victory Sampson, Lauren Dubbink and Nick Grill. Madison Ackley is not pictured.

Whitley Walton, Reporter

Four members of the speech and debate team have qualified for the national competition in June, and there is a chance more could join them. 

On March 7, the speech and debate team competed at Hamilton Southeastern High School in the Hoosier Crossroads District, the qualifying meet for Nationals. Senior Nicholas Grill, juniors Madison Ackley and Lauren Dubbink and sophomore Victory Sampson are headed to Albuquerque June 14 through June 19. 

More members of the team could qualify for Nationals, according to speech and debate coach Mrs. Jeanne Malone. She said the team is waiting to hear if any students who competed in the world school debate category have been moved to the next and most prestigious round. Malone said she expects final notification sometime around March 23.

Placing first in humorous interpretation, Ackley was beyond astonished. “It feels surreal to be a national qualifier,” she said. “I never walk into a speech meet expecting to win. I simply do my best and rest easy with the knowledge that I could not have done any better, so winning first place, and a chance at nationals, is a gift. I am grateful and honored.” 

Grill and Sampson agree. Grill said, “I feel honored to be chosen as a national qualifier.” Grill placed first in international extemporaneous speaking, while Sampson placed second in drama. “It feels amazing to be a national qualifier,” Sampson said. “I’m so ecstatic to be able to represent Cathedral at Nats this year.”

Dubbink placed third in original oratory, securing her spot to nationals after being promoted to second best. “It feels great to be a national qualifier, not only because I wasn’t expecting it, but because I put in so much effort this past week to push for one of those top spots,” Dubbink explained. 

These students practice every week after school for early morning Saturday competitions, and the payoff is worth it. As national qualifiers, they will continue to hone their skills and strengthen their techniques.

“Coach Malone will have practices during the weeks leading up to Nationals,” Grill said. This will allow the students to keep their mind focused on their delivery. 

Ackley went into depth on her own way of getting ready for Nationals. “To prepare, I will continue going to practice twice a week, even after the season is over,” Ackley said. “My coaches and I will likely tear my piece down to the studs, analyze it, and then build it all back up. There are so many details that go into a polished speech: choreography, perfect memorization, tempo, comedic pause, varied voices, facial expressions. I have poured a great deal of effort into my piece, but I assure you, my coaches and I, together, will pour in far more.”

Dubbink added, “I will prepare for Nationals by continuing practicing and revising my speech so that it’s in perfect shape for national. The State competition this weekend will also help me prepare.” 

Sampson, on the other hand, mentioned another factor for nationals: his style of clothing. “I’m preparing for ‘Nats by praying, putting together my favorite outfits (It’s quite the process; It even has an elimination round), and making sure everything I need to bring is in order,” Sampson said.

Whether it comes down to picking the right tie or making sure they pause for comedic effect, these four students will represent their school in June. 

“Mrs. Malone and Mrs. Gray go under appreciated for the effort and the love they give our team,” Ackley said. “I am grateful to them for the time they spent improving my speaking skills these past three years. It’s crazy for me to think that I only joined the team because Mrs. Malone visited my English class, and did a great job convincing me that speech could help me build skills that would in turn build me as a professional. But beyond skills, I have built relationships, and I am endlessly grateful.”