Though it was a drawn-out, exhausting day for everybody in that cafeteria, spirits were high and the excitement was contagious. It was 8:30 p.m. and the competitors from Cary Grove and Huntley high schools were partaking in a friendly dance battle to “Hotline Bling” just before the long-awaited awards ceremony.
On Thursday, Jan. 28, Huntley High School Speech team competed in the Fox Valley Conference tournament against Cary Grove, Crystal Lake South and Central, and Prairie Ridge high schools, at PRHS. Cary Grove reigned victorious, with HHS only seven points behind at a close second.
Despite the overall team finish, Huntley was sure to make their presence known. From their team alone, there were at least two competitors who place in the finals for each event, with seven claiming the coveted first place in their respective events.
In Dramatic Duet Acting, Alexis Mete and Dani Bhan took third with Emily Hill and Marisa Bowman following behind at fourth, and Justin Panacchia and Sophie Calderone finishing in sixth. In Dramatic Interpretation, Palak Patel won first place, with Becca Zayas claiming fourth and Crystal Hart finishing in fifth.
Along with the drama, Huntley proved that not only do they know how to tug at a few heart strings, but they also have a few jokes up their sleeves.
In Humorous Duet Acting, Joey White and Robert Allen took third place with Bhan and Bowman coming behind in fourth, and duo Emily McCusker and Kate Emmel taking sixth. In Humorous Interpretation, Mete claimed third place and Hill finished in sixth. In Original Comedy, White took first place with Kelsey Cecala and River Lee coming in at fourth and fifth place respectively.
That night, Huntley’s talents had reached beyond the acting and interpretation world, and delved into the seemingly daunting realm of limited preparation events.
In Extemporaneous speaking, Shamika Patil came in second, Veronica Casey and Samia Desai were tied for third, Cloey Bullon took fifth and Sarah Stolpe finished in sixth. In impromptu speaking, Shamika Patil claimed first place, Veronica Casey got third, Amanda Avila and Rutva Bhatt were tied for fifth, and Cloey Bullon finished in sixth.
While public speaking in it of itself may seem intimidating to most, given that the competitors have to memorize and sometimes write their own eight-minute speech, Huntley’s speakers’ proved that they did anything but choke on stage.
In Informative Speaking, Alyssa Herrera and Lexie Ziolkowski finished in second and third place respectively, with Mawa Iqbal coming in behind at fourth and Kyle Soliz finishing in sixth. In Original Oratory, Herrera claimed first with Ziolkowski claiming third place.
In Oratorical Declamation, Favila and Allen were tied for second place with McCusker finishing in sixth. In Special Occasion Speaking, Emmel took the lead in first place with Stolpe coming up behind in second, Patel claiming fourth and Pranav Yandamuri finishing in sixth.
Tonight was also the night for the expressive lyricists of Huntley to muse their way into final round.
In Prose Reading, Zayas claimed first place with Bhatt and Patel tied for second. Panacchia and Alison Carmody also placed in firth and sixth respectively. In Poetry Reading, Zayas finished in second with Panacchia claiming third, Calderone coming in fourth, and Hailey Robbins receiving sixth.
Actors, poets, and public speakers. The bulk of the team. With events that are tailored to their talents, the team has attracted students with an array skills.
Which even includes broadcast journalists, and Huntley was sure to take advantage of all their ammunition.
In Radio Speaking, Herrera claimed the title of first place. Justin Devito and Lizzie White followed in third and fourth place respectively.
Though it was smaller and considerably easier, this tournament held a great amount of significance to many of the competitors and their coaches. This was the last tournament where the entire team would compete side-by-side, ushering the beginning of the state-series and the end of a successful regular season.
“Our season has been really good,”said Ziolkowski. “Our team overall was successful. We have a really young team this year, so I think the fact that we have had the amount of success that we’ve had, is impressive.”
While the good vibrations were running high before the awards ceremony, some of the competitors in that cafeteria couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. The competitors have grown so close to each other that they have formed their own little speech family.
“I love all my teammates and I love all the coaches,” said Calderone. “Everyone is just so supportive and nice. That’s just how the team is.”
Before they headed off into the auditorium, the coaches, iPhones in hand, insisted on rounding up every teammate for one big happy family portrait. The eye rolls, grudging attitude, and exasperated sighs disappeared with a tap of the camera screen, even after the picture was taken.
“It’s just a lot of fun. You make a lot of great memories,” said Ziolkowski.