The 2013 Alamosa High School Forensics Team State competitors celebrate.
Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Over the weekend, the Mean Moose Forensics Team made a splash at the State Speech Festival Tournament in Littleton, marking a first for Alamosa High School (AHS) and many first year competitors.
For the second year in a row, junior Kate Taylor is a state forensics original oratory champion, and credited with leading the team to the next level.
“This is the first time in the school’s history that we’ve had a back-to-back State Champion, and Kate Taylor deserves a huge amount of praise for her ability, hard work and grace under pressure,” said AHS Forensics Coach Ken Burt in an email. “Of course, as with any strong competitor, most of the pressure she felt came from within herself, but she felt a responsibility to her friends and teammates to win.”
Although she denied the excessive pressure in an interview on Tuesday afternoon, she did extend thanks to her supportive teammates.
“It was good,” Taylor said about taking top honors for her 2013 performance. “I wasn’t as nervous as last year and it was a little bit easier. I felt pressure to win, I figured it was more to have fun this time.”
When asked about her role on the team, she added, “I like to think of myself as a leader, but it doesn’t always work. As a group, we are very opinionated and we all kind of boss each other around, but it seems to work for us.”
Junior Brandi Thompson, who placed in both CST and impromptu speaking as a first year participant, said on Tuesday the state champ was the reason she is on the forensics team.
“I joined this club because of Kate Taylor,” Thompson said. “She is the leader of this group. I really like it so far.”
Taylor’s success has also “raised the bar” and fueled others like senior Austin Taylor to push harder in the competitions, Burt said.
“The truth is Kate’s success has impacted the whole team,” Burt said. “(Senior) Austin Taylor’s third place in creative storytelling (CST) and his seventh in oratory are mostly due to the fact that he pushed himself all season because he knew the bar was high. He worked hard all season and it paid off. Getting into finals in CST is incredibly hard because it’s a very crowded field, so one little markdown by a judge can completely throw you out of the competition.”
Burt also commented on the successes of his first year participants.
“This is (sophomore) Arnold Quintana’s first season in forensics, and he has just excelled!” Burt wrote. “He is a joy to work with and he loves performing for his fellow students. (Junior) Hinal Rathi is another first year forensics competitor, and she is very competitive. Her desire to excel has pushed both Austin and Kate to be better.”
He added, “Every single one of these kids has a unique story about their involvement in this activity. (Senior) Brisha Wakasugi and Thompson are new to the activity and they are obviously doing something right. (Senior) Laura Owsley is one of our stalwarts, almost a forensics cheerleader, as is (junior) Nicole Lunt, who has a very creative mind and brings a professionalism to rehearsal that I’ve rarely seen.”
When asked about why she is a forensics team member, Owsley said a lot of it has to do with camaraderie.
“It’s a bonding experience going on these car trips together or sitting on one stuffy bus,” Owsley said. “We all get to know each other and we are a family. We all hang out outside of forensics.”
Junior Arianna Brunner, who transferred from a Boulder-area school this year, agreed the family atmosphere was a major draw to the club, only complimenting the fact that AHS has a forensics team.
“There was no program at my other school,” said Brunner, who placed in humorous interpretation. “Here it is emphasized and it is a club. Having a program that is so devoted to practicing speech and debating has strength.”
Burt also recognized sophomore Jaci Palmer, sophomore Elena Arredondo, junior Treven Apker, junior Brian Lucero and junior Brendan Reeves for their stellar contributions and their dedication to their own projects.
“They have great spirit; they’re a delight to be around and we coaches know we can count on them,” Burt said. “They, like all these kids, are a joy. I mean it, a joy!”
In addition, Burt, who is presently on medical leave, said his assistant coach and parent Kristine Taylor has been instrumental for the Mean Moose.
“Without her the team would not have done as well, and, since I have taken a medical leave, if she hadn’t run the show the last two weeks, they might have had the end of their season cancelled,” Burt said. “It’s in large part because of her efforts that this team performed like they did.”
The team is now taking this weekend’s momentum and focusing on the National Forensic League (NFL) District/National Qualifying meet on March 1 and 2 at
Pueblo West High School.
“That’s a tough competition, because unlike sports, we’re competing against any school in our district, 1A-5A, but, if someone does well enough they can qualify to go to NFL Nationals this summer,” Burt said. “We’ve got some kids who could do it, and I’d love to see it happen.”
And the Winners Are …
Junior Kate Taylor, Defending State Champion, Original Oratory, and 11th in
Duet Acting-Humor (with Skye Montoya)
Junior Skye Montoya, 11th in Duet Acting-Humor (with Kate Taylor)
Senior Austin Taylor, 3rd in Creative Storytelling and 7th in Original Oratory.
Sophomore Arnold Quintana, 3rd in Solo Acting.
Junior Ariana Brunner, 7th in Humorous Interp.
Junior Brendan Reeves, 8th in Humorous Interp and 10th in Creative Storytelling.
Senior Laura Owsley, 12th in Solo Acting.
Senior Brisha Wakasugi, 11th in Solo Acting.
Junior Hinal Rathi, 12th in Original Oratory.
Junior Brandi Thompson, 11th in Creative Storytelling and Impromptu Speaking
Sophomore Jaci Palmer, Superior in Value Debate
Sophomore Elena Arredondo, Excellent in Value Debate
Group: The 2013 Alamosa High School Forensics Team State competitors.
Kate: State Champion in original oratory junior Kate Taylor celebrates after successfully defending her title.
Arnold: Third place finisher in Solo Acting sophomore Arnold Quintana, center, hears his name announced at the state competition.
Austin: Third place finisher in Creative Storytelling senior Austin Taylor, far left, waits for results.