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Schools excel at state speech and drama





SMITH CENTER -- When Taylor Zabel and his classmates gather for reunions at Smith Center High School five, 10, 15 years down the road, they surely will talk about the good ol' days of when they carried on the strong football tradition and made it to the state playoffs each year.

But the place where they will find Zabel's photo on a state trophy not once, but twice, is in the academic/activity section of the trophy case.

A member of Smith Center's runner-up scholars bowl team in February, Zabel helped his school bring home another of those large Kansas-shaped wooden monstrosities last weekend.

He finished second in informative speech and fourth in extemporaneous speaking to help SCHS earn another second-place trophy, this time at the Class 2A Speech and Drama State Championships at Wichita.

Members of another Mid-Continent League school pulled off a similar feat as Norton won the 3A state speech and drama team title at Wichita, aided by some scholars bowl members who were fourth in team scoring at state in that program in February.

It was the third consecutive top-six showing at state in both informative speech and extemporaneous speaking for Zabel, who also has participated in football, basketball and track all four years of high school.

"This has been great, showing we're not just (good) at sports," said Zabel, who plans to major in chemical engineering at the University of Kansas next year.

Smith Center forensics coach Marsha Allen agreed.

"We're just thrilled," said Allen, whose team placed third at state two years ago but just missed the top three a year ago.

Another member of both state runner-up teams who scored points for Smith Center on Saturday was sophomore Alina Troska, who finished fifth in the Lincoln-Douglas original oration.

Norton's scholars bowl members who finished fourth earlier this semester and contributed to the Bluejays' first-place point total for the 3A state speech and drama crown were seniors Leif Carlson, Cody O'Hare and Landon Slipke.

"My kids just did absolutely amazing," said Norton's forensics coach, Steve Vance, especially praising the senior class. "They've been great kids for four years."

The two local high schools each had a top-six finish at their state meets. Hays High senior Rachel Muirhead placed second in oral interpretation of prose in Class 5A competition at Emporia, while senior Becca Channell and sophomore John Drees from Thomas More Prep-Marian combined for a third-place finishing in improvised duet acting at 3A in Wichita.

Quinter's perennially strong forensics program continued its rich tradition by finishing second in 1A competition at Salina.

There were several individual state champions among the list of numerous top-six finishers for area schools. See Sunday's Hays Daily News for a list of area all-staters.