by Olivia Skeans
On June 17, three Republic High School students will be traveling to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to compete in the National Speech & Debate Tournament.
Sophomore Victoria Ogbeifun and Juniors Makenzie Tyson and Phillip Latamondeer all became national qualifiers by placing in the top two in their category at districts. This is the second year in a row for both Tyson and Latamondeer.
“Because this is Makenzie and Phillip’s second time to nationals, I feel they are more prepared just based on that fact alone. So much of nationals is just not being psyched out by the scale of the tournament. They learned so much last year, and are ready to go back to place in the top 60, which is the first break of the tournament,” says head coach Sarah Petroff. “Victoria is prepared in the sense that she’s a strong competitor and insanely excited to attend the national tournament. I have all of the confidence in my students.”
Ogbeifun will compete in United States Extemporaneous Speaking, Tyson in Informative Speaking, and Latamondeer in International Extemporaneous Speaking.
The intensity of the national competition is higher than local regular season tournaments. “When you go to nationals, it’s the top two or top three from every district in every state. It’s people you’ve never met before, people you’ve never seen, completely different topics than you would ever think of. Everyone there is extremely talented, so the competition is ten times harder,” says Tyson.
However, the students can get a feel for the national competitors right here in their own district.
“Missouri is ranked very high in competition for nationals. Specifically, the southwest region and the Springfield school districts are some of the best,” Latamondeer says. “In my category alone, one kid that I competed against every weekend was a national champion. It’s just a matter of getting used to different judging styles at nationals.”
The RHS Speech & Debate team has been working even harder than usual to prepare for this competition. Tyson explains, “On a scale of one to ten, I would say probably about a twelve. Preparing for nationals is completely different than preparing for regular tournaments just because everyone there has more than likely qualified for nationals more than once. It’s extremely competitive and extremely hard, so you just have to be willing to adapt to the circumstances and the environment.”