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WPHS Speech Team Shines At Nationals

From STAFF REPORTS

Not everyone was kicking back and relaxing during this past Memorial Day weekend.

The Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate team was cheering three of its members on in the national finals.

Eliza Aulik, Logan Frazier and Addison Wright all finished in sixth place in their respective categories at the NCFL Grand National Speech and Debate Tournament in Washington D.C. this past Saturday and Sunday

Aulick finished sixth in dramatic performance, while Frazier and Wright finished sixth in duo interpretation. Overall, there were nine members of the team who qualified and attended the two-day event.

More than 2,000 students from 420 schools across the United States competed over the weekend, with at least 150 to 200 competitors in each of 10 events.

Aulick performed the one-woman play Senseless by Katherine Raul. In it, she portrayed a deaf woman’s life experience and the guilt and grief of losing her son.

Aulick admitted she had doubts that she hear her name as one of those advancing out of the preliminary rounds. When she did, the rest of the team celebrated, which pumped her up for each of the next rounds — the octofinal of 48 contestants, quarterfinal of 24, semifinal of 12 and final round of six.

“Each time I advanced, it really was the coolest feeling ever,” Aulick said. “All of my teammates rooted me on each time, and when we heard I made the final round, I think everybody was just as excited as I was, if not more.

“Even though it was the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done, having the team and my coaches continue to support and encourage me kept me excited and ready,” she added. “All of the competitors were so talented, so I knew this experience was a great one before I even knew the results.”

In Frazier and Wright’s duo, they teamed to play several characters each from the comedy, An Absolutely True Story (As Told by a Bunch of Lying Liars).

Frazier said the weekend ws one of the most rewarding performances of his high school career, and lauded all the competitors at the tournament as extremely kind and supportive.

“I learned many things about performing and sportsmanship from them, my teammates, and my coaches,” he said. “I am so excited to take these experiences and use them to help lead the Wheeling Park High School Speech and Debate Team in the upcoming year.”

Aliyah Pelley reached the quarterfinals in oral interpretation.

WPHS Speech and Debate coach Bill Cornforth said that to reach the top six of an event among the top 150 contestants in the country is an outstanding feat. He also offered his gratitude to Ohio County Schools and the Wheeling Park administration for their support.

“What an incredible educational experience they offered to our appreciative students,” he said.

Members of the team, which recently won its 42nd state championship, qualified by winning first or second place in their respective categories at the state tournament. Other national qualifiers included Charlie Ihlenfeld, Braeden Keen, Harper Aulick, Summer Duerr O’Bryant, and Rylin Russell. Along with Cornforth, team coaches are Kayla Nelson, Isabella Droginske, and Jen Mathieu.

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