Forensics drawing numbers and talent at HHS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro High School forensics instructor Terry Bebermeyer is enjoying a luxury this spring he usually doesn’t have when he coaches the debate team in fall.

A huge team.

“We have 30-some kids in forensics,” Bebermeyer said with a smile.

The bonanza is the result of losing no seniors from a year ago, returning several sophomores who competed as freshmen, and welcoming a sizable freshman class.

In fact, Bebermeyer returns only one senior from last season, but he has several more on the team.

“We have five or six seniors this year who are really coming in as novices-and have already qualified for state champs,” Bebermeyer said. “Some of them are very creative people whom I just wasn’t aware of from their freshman through sophomore years.”

The fact that some of the newcomers have already qualified for state indicates to the talent this year’s team possesses.

With only four tournaments under its belt so far, Hillsboro has qualified nine entries for “state champs,” where qualifiers compete against each other for the top medals. Each school is allowed only 16 entries in the champs competition.

“We’ve only been to three tournaments as a team, but we’ve already qualified more kids for state champs this year than we had last year at the end of the season,” Bebermeyer said.

Others on this year’s team have qualified for the state forensics contest, where, much like a music festival, performers receive a rating of 1 through 3 for their presentation.

“It’s been a great year so far for us,” Bebermeyer said. “Whenever we’ve taken a full team, we’ve always come home with the sweepstakes-second or third at this point.”

Sweepstakes goes to the top three teams at each meet. Most meets include around a dozen schools and often include schools from all classifications.

Bebermeyer returns several state qualifiers from last season: Casey Reece in humorous solo acting, Adrien Bebermeyer in poetry interpretation and oration, Caleb Dirks in duet acting and improvisational duet acting.

Following are the entries that have already qualified for state or state champs prior to this weekend:

Reece in humorous solo acting;

Bebermeyer in oration and prose interpretation;

Dirks and newcomer Jesse Janzen in duet acting;

Allison Kunkel in informative speech and prose;

Jesse Janzen and Matt Unger in improvisational duet acting;

Grant Anderson in serious solo acting;

Reece and Unger in improvisational duet acting;

Kaleb Borg in prose;

Kelli Just in poetry.

Two students, Aislinn Conrad and Derek Conrad, both qualified for state last year but haven’t been available for contests until now.

One challenge with this year’s team is finding time to work on their entries. Terry Bebermeyer has only two of his 30-plus forensics members in his forensics class this spring.

“Everybody else has to rehearse either before school, after school and some come in during learning support-whenever we can fit them in,” he said.

This weekend, Bebermeyer hopes to accomplish a first: sending two full teams to two different competitions, one in Peabody and the other in Chase County.

“We’ll see how that goes,” he said.

Bebermeyer said parents should feel free to attend competitive events.

“Because people often don’t know a lot about forensics, and they don’t hear about it, parents don’t always feel they can attend,” he said. “But they’re more than welcome to come any time.

“It’s not a case where you have to come and stay all day,” he added. “At a Saturday tournament, the kids will perform three times in the preliminary rounds, and then if their score makes it (among the top six), they go to finals. So there’s a possibility of performing four times.

“It’s always encouraging to have parents come watch their kids.”

HHS will host its own tournament March 4-but that won’t be a good time for parents to watch their own kids.

“We don’t perform when we host because we’re busy running the tournament,” he said.

Regional forensics competition is scheduled for April 20 and the state competitions will be held May 4.

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