Usually when we congratulate a group of high school students for winning a state championship, their triumph is an athletic feat. Given the strong traditions at area high schools in multiple sports, hardly a season goes by that one team or another doesn’t prevail.
Among Manhattan High School’s proud traditions in extracurricular activities are its debate and forensics teams. Two years ago, the MHS forensics team won a state championship. Last year’s team finished third.
This year’s team didn’t want to settle for third, or even second. Thus we are delighted to congratulate the 2014 MHS forensics team and its coach, Shawn Rafferty, for bringing another state title to Manhattan.
Team members knew long before last weekend’s Class 6A State Speech and Drama Festival in Olathe that they had the quality and the depth to contend for the title. But it doesn’t take much research to turn up a litany of teams — in academic or athletic competition — that were good enough to win but fell short.
That it didn’t happen with this year’s team — though it crossed some members’ minds — is a testament to their collective dedication and talent and a healthy dose of experience. “There’s a happiness and a relief in accomplishing that goal,” said Mr. Rafferty.
That goal capped a season in which the students logged hours of research and rehearsal after school on a daily basis, often competing with one another but at the same time building the camaraderie essential for team success.
Contributions came from many team members. Robert Kobza and Peter Sang placed first in Domestic Extemporaneous Speech and Foreign Extemporaneous Speech, respectively. Also, Nathan McClendon placed second in Domestic Extempora-neous Speech, Niroop Rajasheka placed sixth in Foreign Extemporaneous Speech, and Flora Riley placed second in Dramatic Interpretation, a category in which Xavier Hayden also was a semifinalist. Liza Zhu was a semifinalist in Original Oration, Angel Zelazny finished fourth in Informative Speech, Trevor Bashaw was a semifinalist in Humorous Interpretation, Mr. Hayden and Macy Lanceta placed fourth in Duo Interpretation and Mr. Bashaw and Haley Heaton finished sixth in the same event. Kyler Reith and Hanna Hayden were semifinalists in Duet Acting and Miss Hayden also was a semifinalist in Prose.
Other MHS students and their events at the state meet were Miss Zhu in Extemporaneous Speech, Miss Lanceta in Dramatic Interpretation and Mr. Reith in Poetry.
Again, congratulations on the second state forensics champions in three years — a fitting end to an outstanding season.