Excelsior Springs Speech and Debate Team Finds Success at State Championships

Cristian Canales, Brody Hurla, Audrey Ishmael, Em Rice, Kate Houck, and Jason Besherse traveled to the MSHSAA Speech and Debate Championship in Springfield, MO (photos Jeff Haney).

Excelsior Springs, MO – The Excelsior Springs High School Competitive Speaking and Acting Team continued its tradition of excellence at the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) State Championships, which were recently held in Springfield, Missouri.

The team qualified four members for the state competition: Jason Besherse (oration), Em Rice (informative), Audrey Ishmael (dramatic interpretation and poetry), and Katie Houck (prose). Ishmael was the only competitor to qualify in both of her events. Houck, a sophomore, was the district champion in prose.

Senior Jason Besherse delivered a passionate oration on the dangers of technology overuse. Despite his engaging performance, Besherse fell short of advancing to the finals.

“Do I wish I had gone over my speech a few more times while I was in the shower? Sure,” Besherse said with a laugh, “But I’m proud to have competed with the best in the state.”

Senior Em Rice’s informative presentation on electroshock therapy impressed the judges but did not qualify for finals.

Junior Audrey Ishmael displayed her versatility by competing in both dramatic interpretation and poetry. While she did not advance in dramatic interpretation, her captivating poetry performance secured her a spot in the finals and a commendable seventh-place finish.

“I was so nervous the night before,” Ishmael admitted. “I prayed really hard and felt like my prayers were answered. I’m already excited to compete again next year.”

Sophomore Katie Houck delivered a memorable performance of dramatic prose about the Oklahoma City bombing. Her powerful delivery earned her a spot in the finals and a fifth-place finish.

The Excelsior Springs Speech and Debate Team’s dedication and talent shone brightly at the state championships. With impressive performances and valuable lessons learned, the team looks forward to continued success in future competitions.

Kate Houck (left) finished 5th at State Competition and Audrey Ishmael placed 7th.

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