EHS Speech and Drama Team take honors

Staff Writer
Woodford Times
EHS Speech Team members responsible for earning the 2nd Place Team Sweepstakes Trophy at Canton on Jan. 4 include: Thompson Zhuang, Zach Harper, Caleb Graber, Mark Crenshaw, David Crowe, Amber Baer, Erik Slingerland, Emily Cuffe, Courtney Moudy, Brad Zehr, Rachel Fehr, Jamie Wiegand, Constance Moushon, and Jennifer Phillips.

For the 13th year in a row on the third Saturday in January, the Eureka High School building looked like school was in full swing …. filled parking lots, lots of extra school buses and more than 450 high school students and coaches from central area high schools filled the building all in the quest for trophies and medals to be earned at the Annual Eureka High School Speech Individual Tournament.

University High School captured the 1st place Large School Team Sweepstakes Trophy and Heyworth High School captured the 1st place Small School Team Sweepstakes Trophy at the tournament.

Also receiving Sweepstakes Team Trophies in the Large School Division were 2nd place Champaign Centennial High School, 3rd place Richwoods High School, 4th place Galesburg High School, and 5th place Dunlap High School.

In the Small School Sweepstakes, trophies also went to 2nd place Spoon River Valley High School and 3rd place Paxton-Buckley Loda High School.

The JV Sweepstakes Plaques were awarded to 1st place—Galesburg High School and 2nd place—Heyworth High School.

Eureka did not garner any trophies.

“Even though we didn’t claim a trophy, I told the team to use this as a great practice and to be sure and to observe the superior teams that were here. Just knowing that we were right up there as a leader in the small schools is satisfying to us,” Eureka High School Speech and Drama Coach Diana Sluder said.

“This year’s tournament was one of the largest in the area and drew some pretty powerful state contenders in IHSA Speech. University, Richwoods, Centennial are all top schools in events in the state.”  

Sluder continued, “This year’s tournament with the theme of ‘Tournament of Stars’ drew 21 central Illinois high schools coming from as far away as Champaign and Galesburg.”  

One feature at the tournament that made the tournament a valuable learning experience, Sluder said,  is that the tournament does separate the awards into large and small schools based on IHSA enrollment.”

“This helps both the large and small schools know how they stand in comparison with comparable schools. We also have separate Novice (freshman-sophomore or first year competitors) final rounds where the more inexperienced go against other competitors of the same experience,” Sluder said.

Sluder and assistant coach Terry Kuebler praised the support of the speech team parent group who volunteered to spend the day operating concessions, and helping to man the prep rooms for extemp and radio as well as helping in the hallways and in the tab room.  

Extra volunteers coming from the National Honor Society and the Key Club also helped the tournament to run smoothly.

Sluder added, “Most of the coaches who attended expressed appreciation for a well-run and efficient tournament.  I know it took a lot of planning by our tournament chairs — Junior  Mark Crenshaw (son of David and Maryanne Crenshaw of Eureka), Erik Slingerland (son of  William  and Margo Slingerland of Goodfield as well as my co-captains Caleb Graber (son of Jeff and Tammy Graber of Eureka) and junior Brad Zehr (son of Stan and Julie Zehr of Eureka). They all did a terrific job in organizing and decorating.”

Helping to earn the major points and earning medals for the EHS team were:

• Caleb Graber and Brad Zehr—1st place Tournament Champs in Humorous Duet Acting.

• Jennifer Phillips (daughter of John and Carol Phillips of Congerville)—1st place Tournament Champ JV Dramatic Interpretation.

• Zach Harper—3rd place JV Original Comedy.

• Constance Moushon (daughter of Raymond and Catherine Moushon of Eureka)—3rd place JV Poetry and 5th place JV Radio.

• Mark Crenshaw—5th place Radio.

High schools that competed included East Peoria, Dunlap, IVC, Richwoods, Bloomington Central Catholic, Monmouth-Roseville, University, Metamora, Morton, Champaign Centennial, Washington, Limestone, Galesburg, Peoria High, Peoria Notre Dame, Peoria Christian, Heyworth, Elmwood, Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Spoon River Valley and Eureka.

The EHS Speech and Drama Team members also fared well at other tournaments earlier in the season such as Canton and Illinois Central College.

At Canton on Jan. 7, the team earned the 2nd place Team Sweepstakes Trophy along with four tournament champions and collected 16 medals.

Earning big points for the team were:

•.Thompson Zhuang (son of Rong Sheng and Cam Zhuang of Eureka)—1st place Tournament Champ Original Oratory.

• Caleb Graber—1st place Tournament Champ Humorous Interpretation.

• Jamie Wiegand (daughter of Wayne and Rosemary Wiegand of Secor)—1st place Tournament Champ Prose.

• Constance Moushon—1st place Tournament  Champ Radio.  

Also placing were:

• Courtney Moudy (daughter of Bruce and Kristin Moudy of Eureka and Rachel Fehr (daughter of John and Jane Fehr of Eureka) —2nd place Dramatic Duet Acting.

• Brad Zehr and Caleb Graber—2nd place Humorous Duet Acting.

• Thompson Zhuang—2nd place Extemp Speaking.

• Emily Cuffe (daughter of James and Patricia Cuffe of Eureka)—2nd place Special Occasion Speaking and 4th place Oratorical Declamation.

• Constance Moushon—2nd place Poetry.

• Mark Crenshaw—3rd place Radio.

• Jennifer Phillips—3rd place Dramatic Interpretation.

• David Crowe (son of Jim and Marge Crowe of Eureka)—5th place Impromptu Speaking.

• Zach Harper (son of Kevin and Heather Harper of Eureka)—6th place Original Comedy and 7th place Humorous Interpretation.

On  Jan.  15, the EHS Speech Team competed at ICC leading other area small schools.

Team members who helped earn the big points for EHS included:

• Emily Cuffe—4th place in Declamation and 6th place in Special Occasion Speaking.

• Thompson Zhuang—5th place and Top Novice in Extemp as well as 6th place in Original Oratory.

• Caleb Graber and Brad Zehr—5th place in Humorous Duet Acting.  

Finishing out the season at Spoon River Valley, the junior and senior speech team members ventured without their freshmen and sophomores (who were competing at the State JV Tournament) and still came back with placing 4th out of 15 teams.

Making points for the team at Spoon River Valley were:

• Brad Zehr—1st place Tournament Champ in Original Comedy.

• Brad Zehr and Caleb Graber—2nd place Humorous Duet Acting.

• Caleb Graber—2nd place Humorous Interpretation.

• Mark Crenshaw—3rd place Radio Speaking.

• Courtney Moudy and Rachel Fehr—5th place Dramatic Duet Acting.

• David Crowe—5th place Informative Speaking.

• Erik Slingerland—7th place Extemp Speaking.