Pratt High School forensics: Five students now qualified for national competition

Rose Beilman
Pratt Tribune
Pratt High School forensics students (from left) Darrian Cox, Alyssa Green, Hogan Thompson, Colby Barradas and Addison Hopkins celebrate preliminary competition success earlier this month.

After competing at the West Kansas National Qualifying Tournament, all of Pratt High's forensics kids who made it into semi-finals will be going to nationals competition. On Friday, April 16th and Saturday, April 17th, sophomore Alyssa Green and senior Hogan Thompson competed through five rounds to earn 1st at the qualifier, which will propel them into the NSDA virtual nationals tourney. 

Other students also earned top medals to qualify for nationals. Senior Colby Barradas earned #2 in Program Oral Interpretation (POI) and #3 in Humorous Interpretation, but since he had to choose only one primary event to bring (part of the NSDA rules), he chose POI. This senior made it to NSDA's virtual competition last year in 2020 at the national level, and with a Dramatic Interp, he made it past all of the preliminary rounds and into the top 60 nationwide. He's hoping to best that placement this year with his POI about the pandemic.

Darrian Cox earned #3 in Dramatic Interp (Serious Solo) after a tough couple of early rounds. His day on Saturday picked up momentum, and by the end of the day, he had gone from being

low in semi-finals to being one of the qualifiers for the national tourney.

The National Speech and Debate Association, or NSDA, is an organization designed to encourage, reward, and recognize excellence in speech, acting, and debate at local, regional, and national levels, and Pratt High has been a charter member since 1971. 

Last year was the first year NSDA had a virtual tournament, and for most of the individual events, including Barradas' in 2020, the events were pre-recorded and judged asynchronously. This year, this qualifier tourney was live virtual, so students performed in classrooms in front of cameras, but not pre-recorded. Judges came online from across the state and across the nation to judge. 

These nationals qualifiers join a strong few from the past decade at Pratt High who have competed at such a high level. This includes sisters Emma Strobel Garrison and Katie Strobel Fox who attended the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions their senior year with their duet (2019), and Courtney Blankenship and Joseph Loomis who attended NSDA's nation-wide tourney in 2015 with Loomis' oration and Blankenship's World Debate, and supplemental rounds of Prose and Expository Speaking.

This year is the most Pratt has qualified in at least two decades, and these four students will rehearse and hone their pieces before competing nationally in June.

Pratt High School students also attended the virtual regional festival online the same day as well. The Greenbacks had several students who qualified for Kansas State Forensics Festival: sophomore Brett Boor in Informative Speaking, senior Gunnar Jones in Prose, sophomore Autumn Kuemin in Poetry, and freshman Kaatje Herndon in Prose. AND Addison Hopkins as a new forensics freshman earned a 2 in a round at the nationals qualifier, which is exceptionally tough to do.

Greenback forensics team memberd competes in state championships and state festival tournaments on May 1; those results avaiable next week.