Swedes take fourth at state speech
Abbie Mazour wins gold in serious prose
Once judging ballots were tabulated for the Class C Nebraska State Speech Championships Thursday, four Swede finalists waited anxiously in the stands.The wait wasn’t long until senior Abbie Mazour stood at the top of the podium as the serious prose champion.
Teammate and fellow senior Carlin Daharsh finished second in persuasive speaking.
Sophomore Dylan France won a third-place medal in humorous prose and was fifth in entertainment speaking.
Alayna Collins, a junior, received a sixth-place medal in entertainment speaking.
After the medal ceremony, the Swedes learned they had finished fourth as a team compared to a fifth-place finish in 2013.
Omaha Skutt Catholic won the class with 232 points (as they did last year) followed by Grenta with 134.
Omaha Marian was third with 94 points and Gothenburg had 76. Gering, which was district runnerup to Gothenburg the previous week, ended with 66 points.
If the Swedes hadn’t split so many state qualifiers with Gering at district competition, Swede speech coach Dan Jensen said he thinks they may have had the numbers to challenge Gretna at state.
“And that’s water under the bridge now,” Jensen said, noting that he’s proud of the speech team.
“They handle stressful situations with such dignity and poise,” he said. “It’s one of the things I enjoy the most about coaching speech, how I get to see the best in these kids that I get to work with.”
Jensen noted that the Swedes handled state speech like any other contest which is how they train.
“In speech, nothing good can be gained by placing any more importance or emphasis on a state performance versus an early season invitational,” he explained. “In fact, doing so can spoil the outcome.”
The team remained focused throughout the day, supported each other and processed the emotional aspects of the day quickly “and got back to doing what they love to do.”
“That’s really all that can be expected of them,” Jensen said, noting that the final results of each round are out of their hands. “They’ve learned to accept that fact a long time ago.”
Still, Jensen said they put a lot of pressure on themselves because there are high expectations for success.
“They expect big things of themselves and, quite frankly, a lot of other people expect big things of these kids too,” he said.
Jensen added that he’s known the senior class has shown tremendous leadership, talent and work ethic that has paid off for them and has helped the younger team members perform up to those expectations.
“I have known that this is a special group of kids for several years,” he said. “Until state, these kids have won every contest they entered this year.”
Daharsh and Mazour, who both have competed at state, said the first two rounds at state were tense and competitive and finals were more relaxed.
“I felt pressure to break into finals because I wanted to do better than last year,” Mazour said in reference to not getting into finals last year.
France said he had a lot of fun, noting that he competed in events (entertainment speaking and humorous prose) that make people laugh.
“I didn’t have anything to lose,” he said.
Alayna Collins described the day as a lot of fun but not when she tore her black panty hose twice—something that never happened during the regular season.
She ripped one pair and donned her back-up pair.
“But when I found out I was in finals, I had two huge holes,” Collins said.
Fortunately a speech coach quickly bought her a third pair.
The varsity team heads to Cheyenne, WY, on Thursday for National Forensic League Districts—a qualifying regional contest for nationals in June.
Swede state medalists and their performances include:
Serious prose—“Redemption.” Mazour portrays a young woman who comes to terms with the murder of her sexually abusive father.
Persuasive—“Tax Returns and Bom Pop Popsicles.” Daharsh tells how to find true happiness in the small day-to-day things.
Humorous—“Sesame, Life on the Street.” France performs a detective spoof that investigates a murder on Sesame Street.
Entertainment—“Role Models.” France takes a humorous look at failed pop-culture role models that shouldn’t be followed. Through “Single No More 101,” Collins gives humorous advice on how to break up, cope and find a new relationship.
Also competing at state were Kayla Trevino in extemporaneous speaking . She also performed a duet with Drake Langley.
Kylee Beyea competed in informative speaking.