Though the numbers didn't compute as they hoped for finals, Pratt High School took 10 of 13 students into the semifinals at the state forensics tournament last weekend.

The Pratt High School Forensics team had a good chance for medals at the State Forensics Championships in Topeka on Saturday when they placed 10 students in 9 events in the semifinals. But it wasn’t meant to be with none of the Pratt team members making it to finals.
“You look at the successes and learn from the disappointments,” said PHS Forensics Coach Rose Beilman who was very proud of her team.
Beilman said she was still pleased to have 10 of the 13 members of the team make it into semifinals and be among the top 12 in the state. This was the same number in semis when the team took second in the state four years ago. Her goal this year was to get half the team entries into semis and they had nine of 16.
 “We had some really good performances,” Beilman said. “I’m proud of the good work the kids did. Ten of 13 (team members) made it into semis. That’s a very big success.”
Team members making the semifinals round were Ryleigh Cook in Impromptu Speaking, Donovan McAbee and Kylee Hopkins in Impromptu Duet Acting, Ruby Howell in Oration, Amee Hidalgo in Oration, Colby Barradas in Serious Solo, Darrian Cox in Humorous Solo, Katie Strobel and Emma Strobel in Duet Acting, Katie Strobel in Impromptu and Morgan Rogers Humorous Solo.
Double-entered but not advancing to semifinals were Cook in Original Oration, Mcabee in Serious Solo, Barradas in Prose.
Other team members contributing to the team total were Kahrie Stegman in Serious Solo, Caden Donnenwerth in Serious Solo and Impromptu, Nick Vail in Extemporaneous.
Beilman said the team was young this year and she has high hopes for the team next year.
Assistant Coach Kadie Larsh said so many students grew from last year. Larsh, who fell in love with forensics in high school, said she enjoyed helping guide the students and watch their success.  She said there were some good surprises at state but it all comes down to what the judges thought. Final placings aren't the only way to judge a student's success in this extra-curricular activity. Being in Forensics helps students in a variety of ways.

Senior Ryleigh Cook said she enjoys thinking on her feet and it fits her personality perfectly. Her communication skills have improved and she likes being goofy with her friends. Junior Donovan McAbee likes to be creative. He qualified for State Champs in IDA with three different people. It gets him out of his comfort zone. He feels better about building relationships and not be so timid. Sophomore Kylee Hopkins said it was fun to use her imagination. She has gained more confidence and has learned to control her nerves. She was thrown into IDA and it was totally different for her. She said she has become a better teammate and leader.
For sophomore Ruby Howell, she was more confident this year and wasn’t as nervous and that helped her make it into semis. She an Coach Beilman wrote her piece about women’s rights and found how difficult it was to write something the didn’t offend someone but was still persuasive. Junior Amee Hidalgo is in her third year of forensics. Hidalgo, who speaks three languages and is working on a fourth, used her Oration as a way to convince others they should learn another language. She has become more articulate and learned a more reasonable way of discussing things.
Sophomore Colby Barradas took on a serious solo and a prose with a humorous theme. He has learned how to portray emotions better and has gained self confidence. Freshman Darrian Cox was tantalizing close to finals, missing it by just one point. He likes doing humor solos and likes being expressive.
“It’s fun being funny,” said Cox who enjoys making friends in forensics and figuring out how to block and cut the piece he uses. He likes being in Forensics where he can express himself without being judged except by the judges.
Twin seniors Emma and Katie Strobel enjoy working with each other. Emma said they have good chemistry and she is close to her sister. Katie said likes working with Emma because they don’t often have a chance to do something together. Emma has become more confident and to be more responsible. Katie is better at thinking on her feet and putting ideas together. She has more self confidence and doesn’t dwell on problems. She likes the challenges and doing the work in Forensics.
Emma said she wasn’t an actress but Beilman challenged her to get out of her comfort zone.  
Senior Morgan Rogers, she was encouraged to do a humorous piece, something she has never done before. She took a risk and discovered she loved being funny and bringing smiles to people. She has been in Forensics for four years and has come away with more confidence and can speak better in front of others. Her biggest challenge was balancing Forensics and softball.
“I love both,” Rogers said.
All the students appreciate everything their coaches do for them. Beilman and Larsh balance each other well. They are like a second mom and dad. Emma said they were like the Dynamic Duo. Some consider Beilman as a family member and a mentor. She can be strict at times but it helps the students deal with pressure and be the best they can be, McAbee said.
She pays attention to the student needs and seems to get along with everyone. She really believes in her students, Hidalgo said.
Beilman is always willing to help and wants the team to succeed. She is selfless and just fun to work with.
“I love her to death,” Katie Strobel said.