Carson High students earn rankings in national speech contest
Six students from Carson High School took part in the Online National Speech and Debate Tournament between June 14 and 20 featuring more than 5,300 students across the nation and ranked among the highest in the school’s participation in the event in 20 years, according to speech and debate coach Patrick Mobley.
The national tournament featured 1,322 schools with 5,314 entries. The district qualifying tournament had been canceled. Students participated during league tournaments at the end of the regular competition seasons before Nevada schools were closed in March, Mobley said.
For each event, the top two competitors earned spots for nationals, and students were permitted to compete in one main event. If students qualified in multiple events, they selected one and alternate qualifiers chose to compete in other events.
Carson students Valeria Torres, Vanessa Lezama Torres, Rosalind Macy and Emma Peterson competed in the tournament’s Duo interpretation category. Torres and Lezama Torres ranked approximately 180th, while Macy and Peterson placed 172nd.
Kieran Dazzo earned 65th and gained five first- or second-place ballots for Dramatic Interpretation, while Mary Milburn ranked about 55th in Program Oral Interpretation and advanced to elimination rounds and earned eight first-, second- and third-place ballots.
Milburn had been one of two students in the league to qualify in the league for the Lincoln Douglas Debate, Informative Speaking and Program Oral Interpretation. She also was named 2019’s state champion in Douglas, but Mobley said she didn’t have an opportunity to defend her title this year because the tournament was canceled.
Mobley, CHS social studies teacher, said the final results didn’t show exact placings beyond the top 14, which is why the figures are approximate.
Final rounds took place June 20 and were livestreamed.
“They had to have prerecordings done by June 10,” Mobley said. “They were still finishing up finals and what not. … Once they submitted, their videos were put into rounds. Nationally, they were trying to compete at what would have been Albuquerque, where it was supposed to be.”
Videos were seen by about 10 to 12 judges. Scoring was similar to golf, he said, where the lower the score, the better the contestants fared.
“Mary had enough for seconds and thirds,” he said. “Kieran needed one higher ranking. Once you get into the top 60, you need two more ranks, then you get moved into the top 30.”
Mobley said it was somewhat nerve-racking since he hadn’t physically seen the students since March with school being closed due to the pandemic. He described each student’s performance, the challenge of travel and finding out the state tournament had been canceled while they were in Tonopah receiving messages it would no longer be held.
“We spent the night in Las Vegas, then school closed,” he said. “The last time I saw any of my kids was on a bus.”
Mobley said typically the success of his program depends on his students’ abilities to recruit their own peers.
“They’re speakers, so they’re the ones who should be doing the recruiting,” he said, sharing how they’ve often gone to middle schools searching for younger talent and interest.
Mobley said he’s been coaching for 15 years and enjoys watching students gain their skills in debate.
“It’s great,” he said. “This is the most rewarding part of my job.”