Speech and Debate team shines at state finals

Speech and Debate team shines at state finals

Anthony Biondillo, Senior Contributor

On Thursday, February 28, 30 students boarded a bus to compete at the Ohio Speech and Debate state tournament.

After competing in over a dozen tournaments throughout a season that began in October, this was the biggest tournament of the year thus far. Head coach Jeremy Hamilton’s team was competing in almost a dozen categories. While each of these categories is unique, they are all tied together by the single thread of using the power of the voice to move an audience, but especially a judge.

Thursday was a night of stress for the competitors as they awaited the weekend to come. Most, especially debaters, used a statewide gathering to prep for competition.

The next day was the start of prelims. All 30 Canfield competitors brought their A-game. The humor kids made judges laugh, the dramas made judges cry, and the public forum debaters made their judges wonder, “What is market-rate housing, anyways?”

By the end of Friday, the only category to reach elimination rounds was Congressional Debate which cut the 200+ competitors down to only 96, including Canfield’s own Brandon Stratton, Prabh Dhaliwal and Robert Faix.

Prelims finished Saturday morning and the top 24 were announced for Speech and Debate categories, and Canfield was well represented. Twelve Speech and Debate competitors broke to the top 24, including Dominic DeRamo, Vincent Machuga, Gregory Halley, Lauren Johnson, Claire Berlin, Ashton Gingerich, Sophia Campos, Kaleigh Ceci, Alex Sanders, Moe Prather, Angelo Cestone and Anthony Biondillo.

This was an exciting moment. Senior Greg Halley reflected on this moment saying, “I was very excited when half the team advanced. I was rooting for everyone, and since the team did so poorly last year, it was refreshing to see us place better.”

Then came the second round of cuts. Representative Faix and Representative Dhaliwal broke to the top 48 in Congressional Debate, while Ceci, Johnson, Campos, Halley, Prather, and Sanders each made it in the top 12 in their respective speech categories.

Anxiety was high as each of the competitors gave it their all to make it to the final round. As tensions ran high, it was announced that Halley in Informative Speaking, Sanders in Humor and Prather in Program Oral Interpretation made it to the final round.

The whole team was enthusiastic to support their teammates, but it was at the awards ceremony when the team became the most ecstatic. Prather and Sanders placed 4th and 6th in Ohio respectively, but it was from Halley where the biggest cheer of the night came.

Only two informative speakers remained on stage, one of which was Canfield’s own Gregory Halley. As his teammates sat at the edge of their seats, it was slowly announced that first place in Informative Speaking was Canfield’s own Gregory Halley. 

No one was as excited, though, as Greg himself who said, “I honestly couldn’t believe it. I walked out of the final [round] expecting to get fifth or sixth, but only a small part of my mind thought I could have actually done it. I was utterly overwhelmed when my name was announced. I felt joy, pride, excitement, and everything in between. I was simultaneously boosted and humbled. I knew that day that the big man upstairs had my back.”

At the end of the day, Canfield placed eighth overall in the state. The whole team went home with many medals, but even more memories.