Thursday, June 21, 2018
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Recent GHS grads compete at national speech tourney

Three Gothenburg High School speech students rubbed shoulders with the best of the best during the National Speech & Debate Tournament last week.

Recent GHS graduates Carlin Daharsh, Abbie Mazour and Italian exchange student Sara Picci traveled with speech coach Dan Jensen to Overland Park, KS, for the June 15-20 event.

The tournament is the capstone of high school speech and debate activities for nearly 130,000 students around the country. To compete, students must place among the top competitors at one of 110 district tournaments. The girls placed at NFL regional tournament in Cheyenne, WY, last April.

It was the second national tournament for Daharsh and Mazour who competed in Birmingham, AL, last year. The tourney was the first for Picci whose first language is Italian. That makes her qualification for the national tourney even more impressive, Jensen said.

All three competed in six rounds, that included 250 students in each event. They were eliminated after the first cut from which 60 students were chosen to continue.

For Mazour, not continuing on was bittersweet.

“Naturally I wanted to keep advancing but I tried my hardest, and was satisfied with that effort at the end of the day,” she said.

Like Mazour, Picci was also disappointed when she didn’t make the first cut.

“But then I reminded myself that just being there and competing at that level was the opportunity of a lifetime, especially for me,” she said. “It was an honor and the fact that I didn’t make the first cut doesn’t make me a bad speaker.”

Picci added that she had an amazing season and opportunity for which she’s thankful.

Still she said she felt a bit disadvantaged compared to some of the competitors because of her pronunciation of words due to her accent.

“In speech, it is really important for the judges to understand what I’m saying exactly and I’m always afraid they don’t, especially because they are not used to hearing me talking,” Picci said.

Daharsh said she was bummed when she didn’t make the cut.

“We work so hard but the cards can’t always be in our favor,” she said.

Still, Daharsh said the teens can use what they learn from the tournament and share it with the GHS speech students for the 2014-15 season.

The highlight of the trip for Daharsh was spending a day at Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark while Mazour said she enjoyed shopping, the food and meeting tons of speech kids who “always have the most entertaining personalities.”

Picci said she enjoyed competing with students from all over the United States.

“I met new people and got to listen to speeches that are very different from how we write and deliver them in Nebraska,” she said. “I think it is incredible how there are always new ideas and different ways to talk about a topic, making it interesting.”

As far as competing at Overland Park, Daharsh said the tournament didn’t have the “wow” factor she felt Birmingham had in 2013 in regards to the competition, the set up, people and activities.

Mazour said her second national tournament was less nerve racking than the first because she knew what to expect.

“I also found that I had a whole new respect for all the other competition,” she said, noting that she thought Overland Park was a little less hospitable than Alabama. “But it was fun nonetheless.”

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