On Jan. 26, the Fort Scott forensics team kicked off its season by splitting into three teams and heading in three directions.
By day's end, the Tigers had captured three team sweepstakes awards, had 36 medalists with 12 of those qualifying for the state tournament by finishing in the top two.
At Neodesha, the squad captured first in sweeps by putting 10 in finals, led by Taylor Watkins who finished first in Serious Solo Acting (SSA) and second in Extemporaneous Speaking (EXT). Watkins was joined as a champion by Gage Addington whose straight 1's earned him the Informative Speaking (INF) title.
Others who had an excellent day were: Caleb Gazaway, who was third in Humorous Solo Acting (HSA); Ashton Mason, who double broke finishing third in INF and sixth in Prose (PRO); Jasmine Davis, who was second in Original Oration (OO); Jesse Guerrero, third in extemporaneous speaking; Wyatt Stark, second in poetry (POE); and Ben Sweyko who ended the day in fourth in informative speaking.
A little closer to home in Girard, the team captured a third place sweeps placing by advancing 14 into finals. Champions were Mady McColm in SSA and Michael Peterson in POE. These two also combined to earn a fifth place Duet finish, Weilert wrote in a news release.
Other medalists were: Thomas Nighswonger, third, SSA; Charlotte Hutchison, fourth, SSA and third PRO; Courtney Rooks, second in PRO; Jacob Pemberton, second in Impromptu Speaking (IMP) and sixth in Original Oration; D.J. Blethen, fifth in original oration; Bethany Robison, fourth in poetry; and Jennifer Harrison, sixth in Serious Solo Acting and third in Duet with partner Sebastion Loyd. Loyd was also second in poetry.
The final group was in action at Gardner Edgerton. This bunch also finished with a third-place sweeps finish by putting 10 into the medal round. Ackland Milton was the lone champion, ending the day as the poetry champion to go with his sixth place in SSA.
Medalists were: Hayden Sheldon, fifth in Serious Solo Acting and Poetry; Garrett Tatro, fourth in original oratory and fifth in prose; Caleb Moore, sixth in informative speaking and fourth in impromptu speaking; and Tyler Slinkard, second in extemporaneous speaking and fifth in original oration. All contributed to the high team placing.
"It is tough to win one tournament, but to place at three on the same weekend really is a testament to the team's and coaches' hard work," coach Brian Weilert said. "Our first-time competitors rose to the occasion as they were 15 of the 36 medalists. You never really know what you have until you get out and do it. I am extremely excited by what this year holds for us."
The Tigers have finished in the top three at the state tournament the past six years with three championships. If opening weekend is any indication of how this year will pan out, Fort Scott looks to make it seven in a row, Weilert wrote in the release.