Speech Team Nabs Bronze at State

Speakers claim state championship in Original Performance.

Saanya Agarwal, Co-Editor in Chief

The CHS Speech Team placed 3rd at the ISSDA State Speech Tournament this past weekend. With 85 points in the AA Class, Chesterton was just behind Plymouth’s 153 points and champion Munster’s 160. More than 60 schools and 700 student entries fought for top honors, surviving one break round after another, until only the top 6 remained in each of the 15 state events.

To qualify for the State Tournament, students must advance to the final round of the Sectional Tournament held two weeks prior. Chesterton brought 40 entries to Sectionals, 24 of whom made it to finals and competed at State.

After three preliminary rounds, with 48 students from around the state in each event, the top 24 made the cut for quarterfinals. Chesterton advanced 19 of its 24 entries into the quarterfinal round. Of those 19, 9 moved onto the semifinal round. Amazingly, 7 of Chesterton’s 9 semifinalists moved on to become state finalists. Finalists competed in no fewer than 6 rounds.

The team was led by senior partners in Original Performance, Josh Hoover and Jackson Dudek, who not only made it to finals for the second year in a row, but were the state champions by a significant margin. Hoover and Dudek competed with a 10 minute piece they wrote themselves, in which they humorously satirized the problems of speech and debate in today’s world. They emerged from their preliminary rounds as the second seed of the tournament, trailing only behind teammate Katie Asbury. Asbury narrowly missed the cut for final round after a near-perfect preliminary score, ending her junior year as a state semifinalist. All three were coached by alumna, Karly Carden (‘17).

Hoover and Dudek also competed in solo events. Hoover was the number twelve seed in Humorous Interpretation before going down in the quarterfinal round. Dudek was the number seven seed in Programmed Oral Interpretation prior to meeting the same fate. Both were coached by alumnus, Dakota McCoy (‘11).

Further leading the charge was senior Gigi Hanner, who was a finalist in both of her events for an impressive second year in a row. Hanner was crowned State Runner-Up in Radio Broadcasting and 4th in Original Oratory. Hanner’s oration addressed the causes, harms, and solutions of society’s inability to live in a state of unknowing. She was coached by alumni, Dannielle Hunt (‘99) and Dakota McCoy, in Oratory and coached by alumnus Aaron Drew (‘18) in Radio Broadcasting.

In the event of Dramatic Interpretation, the team saw two speakers make finals for the first time in a long time. Senior Cai McClure placed 6th in the state after joining the team only a few months prior. Junior Addison Botts finished in 3rd place, nipping at the heels of Plymouth’s Runner-Up and Munster’s champion. McClure was coached by McCoy and Drew, and Botts was coached by Carden.

Senior Gretta Burke advanced, and was no stranger, to the final round of Discussion. This was the second year Burke advanced to finals in this event, and this year she left with a 5th place finish. Discussion was coached by Joshua Coots, who helped Chesterton advance to the final round in 4 of the last 5 state competitions.

The final finalist for Chesterton was junior TiffanyNichole Nolasco, who left her first State Speech Tournament as 3rd in the state in Humorous Interpretation. Nolasco tied for Runner-Up, but was awarded third based on a series of tiebreakers. She also competed in Prose Interpretation, where she fought all the way to the semifinal round before being eliminated. Nolasco was coached by Carden in Humor and Hunt in Prose.

The team’s other semifinalist (top 12 in Indiana) was Milena Letic (10) in US Extemp.

The team’s other quarterfinalists (top 24 in Indiana) were: Addison Botts (11) in Programmed Oral Interpretation, Freedom Eiden (12) in International Extemp, Riley Hawksworth (12) in US Extemp, Madison Morton (10) in Original Performance, Carmen Thomas (10) in Original Oratory and Prose Interpretation, and El Thompson (9) in Prose Interpretation.

Six months and 40 competitions later, the speech and debate season comes to a close…for now! In May, several students will represent Chesterton at the NCFL two-day national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. Then in June, the week-long NSDA national tournament takes place in Phoenix, Arizona.

The 2022-2023 Chesterton Speech and Debate Team is coached by Chris Lowery (‘99), Dannielle Hunt (‘99), Karly Carden (‘17), Aaron Drew (‘18), and Taylor Alexander. The program is co-directed by Joshua Coots and Dakota McCoy (‘11). The team thanks the parents, volunteers, administrators, and Duneland community at-large for continuing to support the nationally recognized 56-year legacy of Chesterton Speech and Debate.