Bear Creek Forensics team storms through postseason

The team will once again send members to the national speech and debate tournament this month.

  • Monday, June 4, 2018 8:30am
  • Life

This month The Bear Creek School’s forensics team will once again send several members to the National Speech and Debate Tournament which will be held June 17 to 22 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The team scored a multitude of successes throughout its postseason series of tournaments.

Beginning President’s Day weekend, when the team competed at the Cal Invitational, Bear Creek speakers and debaters have been earning a reputation for excellence around Washington and on the national scene. Bear Creek forensics team competed February 17-19, 2018 in the 45th Annual California National Invitational Tournament at UC Berkeley.

This 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 students representing 180 high schools from 18 states and 5 foreign countries. These competitors are among the best of the best in high school forensics, and Bear Creek more than held its own.

  • Maria Bakhmetyeva, sophomore, fifth place in Expository Speaking and quarterfinalist in Duo Interpretation (with Yasmin)
  • Yasmin Wadhwani, junior, quarterfinalist in Expository Speaking and Duo Interpretation (with Maria)
  • Richard Zhang, senior, quarterfinalist in Impromptu Speaking
  • Alex Finan, senior, quarterfinalist in Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Jack McDonough, junior, quarterfinalist in Humorous Interpretation

Next up for the Grizzlies was the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) Puget Sound District Championship Tournament held March 1-3 at Glacier Peak HS. Bear Creek’s forensics team won the Puget Sound District Sweepstakes Award in speech events (winning six of eight individual event District Championships) and, as mentioned above, qualified eight team members for the National Speech & Debate Tournament. The following students have qualified to compete at Nationals in the named events.

  • Taylor Unoki, senior – Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking*
  • Alex Finan, junior- International Extemporaneous Speaking*
  • Lauren Shen, sophomore – Humorous Interpretation*
  • Emma Firminger, freshman – Program of Oral Interpretation*
  • Yasmin Wadhwani, junior, and Maria Bakhmetyeva, sophomore – Duo Interpretation*
  • Alicia Stepin, junior – World Schools Debate
  • Christina Stepin, freshman – World Schools Debate

Additionally, Maria Bakhmetyeva was a National qualifier and District Champion (*) in Informative Speaking, and Yasmin Wadhwani was also a National qualifier in Informative Speaking; however, rules state that each student may only compete in one event at the NSDA National Tournament. Students qualifying in both individual and paired events (e.g. Duo Interpretation) must choose the paired event. In total, Bear Creek came home with six District Championships (denoted with an asterisk).

More recently, the forensics team placed second overall (for the fifth consecutive year) at the WIAA 3A State Speech (Individual Events) Tournament held on March 10 at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Bear Creek speakers broke into the final round in every event, and together Yasmin Wadhwani, junior, and Maria Bakhmetyeva, sophomore, won the State Championship in Duo Interpretation with “Wicked.” This is Yasmin’s second State Championship; as a freshman in 2016, she won Expository Speaking. Bear Creek students also placed and finished as follows:

  • Alex Finan, junior – second place in Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Richard Zhang, senior – third place in Impromptu Speaking, finalist in Original Oratory
  • Alex Finan, junior – finalist in Impromptu Speaking
  • Maria Bakhmetyeva, sophomore – finalist in Expository Speaking
  • Emma Firminger, junior – finalist in Expository Speaking
  • Lauren Shen, sophomore – finalist in Humorous Interpretation
  • Siena Cysewski, junior – finalist in Interpretive Reading
  • Jack McDonough, junior – finalist in Dramatic Interpretation

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. Bear Creek (221 high school students), which normally competes in the 1A classification, placed second to perennial forensics powerhouse Gig Harbor (1761 students).

Finally, this year Bear Creek’s forensics team was recognized for its success in the classroom and named 2017-2018 WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington/Les Schwab Tires 1A Academic State Champions for having the highest average GPA of all the forensics teams competing in its classification.

As the team members prepare to complete their final exams or senior projects and hop on a plane to Florida, Coach Andrea Lairson recently reflected, “The members of this forensics team go beyond smart, talented, and verbally skilled. They are teachable, kind hearted, and wonderfully good humored. This means that they listen with a good-natured attitude to coaches, judges, and fellow competitors and implement that feedback to write or deliver a stronger speech.” With their speeches are polished and practiced, the Grizzlies are excited for the opportunity to compete at the National Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale later this month.


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