Bear Creek’s forensics participants are: Back rows: Alex Finan, Blaine Mitchell, Hannah Hostetter Yasmin Wadhwani and Richard Zhang; Middle row: Taylor Unoki, Maria Bakhmetyeva and Lauren Shen; Front row: Coach Bob Gomulkiewicz, Adesuwa Agbonil, Sean Gallagher and coach Andrea Lairson. Courtesy photo

Bear Creek forensics team storms through postseason

  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:52am
  • Life

Last week, The Bear Creek School’s forensics team finished its fourth of five postseason tournaments. Beginning President’s Day weekend, when the team competed at the Cal Invitational, Bear Creek speakers and debaters have earned a reputation for excellence around Washington and on the national scene.

Bear Creek forensics team’s competed Feb. 18-20 in the 44th Annual California National Invitational Tournament at UC Berkeley. The tournament is one of the longest running and most prestigious in the country and is widely regarded as a preview of the national tournaments coming up in May and June. The tournament attracted well over 2,000 competitors from 24 states and three foreign countries. These competitors are among the best of the best in high school forensics, and Bear Creek more than held its own.

Bear Creek was the only school from Washington to advance from preliminary rounds in speech events, breaking a remarkable nine out of 10 speakers to outrounds, five to semifinals and two to final round competition. Senior Adesuwa Agbonile was the Original Oratory champion out of 241 national varsity-level competitors, and senior Sean Gallagher took second in Impromptu Speaking out of a field of 218. Other Bear Creek finalists were:

Yasmin Wadhwani, sophomore, and Maria Bakhmetyeva, freshman, semifinalists in Expository Speaking; Richard Zhang, junior, quarterfinalist in both Original Oratory and Impromptu Speaking; Blaine Mitchell, junior, and Taylor Unoki, junior, quarterfinalists in Impromptu Speaking; and Alicia Stepin, sophomore, octafinalist in Impromptu Speaking.

Next up for the Grizzlies was the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) Puget Sound District Championship and National Qualifying Tournament. The Congressional Debate tournament was held on Feb. 25 at the State Capitol in Olympia, the only national qualifying tournament in the country held in a statehouse. On March 2-4, the team competed in the remaining speech and debate events at Snohomish High School. Bear Creek’s forensics team won the Puget Sound District Sweepstakes Award in speech events and took the second place overall District Sweepstakes Award, which combines all speech and debate events. Bear Creek won seven event championships (denoted with *) and qualified a phenomenal 13 team members for the National Speech & Debate Tournament which will take place this June in Birmingham, Ala.

They are:

Agbonile – Original Oratory* about “The Problems of Oversimplification”

Unoki – Informative Speaking about “Good Ol’ Factory”

Zhang – Program Oral Interpretation* on the theme of “The Painful Truth”

Hannah Hostetter, sophomore – Program Oral Interpretation on the theme of “Loss of Control”

Wadhwani and Bakhmetyeva – Duo Interpretation* of “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson

Lauren Shen, freshman – Humorous Interpretation of “Love is a Fallacy”

Gallagher and Justin Li, senior – Public Forum Debate*

Alex Finan, sophomore, and JJ Finan, junior – Public Forum Debate

Victor Gill, junior, and Stepin – World Schools Debate

Bear Creek students also won district championships in International Extemporaneous Speaking (Gallagher), Informative Speaking (Bakhmetyeva) and Congressional Debate—Senate (Unoki), however since each student may only compete in one event at the NSDA National Tournament and students qualifying in both individual and paired events (e.g. Duo, Public Forum) must choose the paired event, the Grizzlies will compete at nationals as listed above.

More recently, the team placed second overall (for the fourth consecutive year) at the WIAA 3A** Individual Events (Speech) State Tournament held on March 11 at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Agbonile was named state champion in Interpretive Reading with a theme of “Missed Connections.” This is Agbonile’s third state championship. Her previous event championships are in Duo Interpretation in 2016 and Impromptu Speaking in 2015. Additionally, for the second year in a row, she placed second in Original Oratory.

Bear Creek students also placed as follows:

Gallagher – second place in Impromptu Speaking, third place in Extemporaneous Speaking

Wadhwani and Bakhmetyeva – second place in Duo Interpretation

Alex Finan – third place in Impromptu Speaking

Bakhmetyeva – third place in Expository Speaking about “Nicholas the Great”

Wadhwani – finalist in Expository Speaking about “Psy-color-gy”

Mitchell – finalist in Impromptu Speaking

Zhang – finalist in Original Oratory with “Happily Everafter”

Hostetter – finalist in Interpretive Reading

This past weekend, March 17-18, at the WIAA 3A Debate State Tournament was also held at University of Puget Sound. Debating the topic, “Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution,” Bear Creek seniors Li and Gallagher tied for third in Public Forum, and Li also received the seventh place Speaker award. In Lincoln-Douglas, Agbonile placed seventh, debating the topic “Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.” Unoki broke into Super Congress.

Finally, this month Bear Creek’s forensics team was recognized for its success in the classroom and named 2016-2017 WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires 1A Academic State Champions for having the highest average grade-point average (3.624) of all the forensics teams competing in its classification.

** In forensics (both individual events and debate events), WIAA runs just two state tournaments. The 4A tournaments include the largest schools normally competing in the 4A classification, while 3A tournaments includes all other schools normally competing in 1B through 3A classifications.

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