MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School speech and debate team won the Kiwanis Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament. The team’s first-ever win was accomplished on its home turf as Saturday was the first time MVHS hosted such a tournament.
Mount Vernon won the tournament team trophy with a score of 73. Whitmer High School was second with 52 points and Bexley High School came in third with 50 points.
Coach Jeff Gottke, who also served as the tournament director, was thrilled with his team’s success. “I obviously feel great,” he said. “We competed against some pretty tough teams. We’ve placed second in a lot of other contests. To have a win happen here at home is just great.”
Rochelle Salazar won first-place honors in the original oratory contest, her first-ever tournament championship. “This is awesome,” she said. “I haven’t won first place before. I started in speech and debate in my sophomore year, and I didn’t place at all. I worked hard and got a fourth and third last year. Now I have a first.”
Salazar had to choose a topic, research it, write about it, then memorize the speech. She talked about how society strives for Utopia. “What I found really interesting about the topic,” she said, “is how we always try to find something perfect, and there’s nothing perfect in the world because we always find flaws in things.”
Three more Mount Vernon students placed in the original oratory category. They were Steven Meeker Jr., third place; Taylor Zolman, fourth, and Matt Skaggs, fifth.