By Lauren Brant
Rylan Hurd and Zak Wellnitz represented Gordon-Rushville High School in the state speech competition on Thursday, March 22. Hurd was named state champion in Class B Oral Interpretation of Humorous Prose.
Hurd and Wellnitz advanced to the state competition after placing in the top three at districts. Hurd competed in humorous prose and Wellnitz competed in serious prose. “These two boys have put in countless hours in and out of the practice room all season to prepare for this one day of glory,” wrote Ms. Esther Wilson.
Ahead of the competition, Mrs. Sandi Muirhead and Ms. Wilson commended both students for making it to state and gave them the advice to perform their best.
After the preliminary rounds of competition, Wellnitz finished in fourth during the first round and third in the second round. He finished tenth in serious prose, putting him out of contention for the finals.
As a humorous prose speaker, Hurd said the speech has a time limit of 10 minutes with a 30 second grace period. The goal is to choose a published work and perform the prose in a funny way to make a room full of people laugh.
Hurd sat in second place behind Kathleen Esser of York going into the finals with a preliminary score of 1.33. In the final round, Hurd scored 1, 4, 1 with the judges for a score of 2.25, claiming first place. “No one is allowed to look at finals ballots until after awards, but I thought Rylan had a good shot of being in the top three at least,” wrote Wilson. “I didn’t realize he would be the Class B Humorous state champion.”
As the announcer called the winners to the podium, Hurd became flooded with emotions when he realized he was the state champion. He had never placed at state and finished his career as a Mustang on top of the podium at one of the most difficult competitions. “It was indescribable,” he said. “It felt like after 4 years of blood, sweat, and tears I finally did it. I’m finally on top.”
The Mustangs finished with 20 points and tied with Nebraska City for 14th place out of 21 teams. The all-day Class B competition was held at the University of Nebraska – Kearney.
The speech team will lose three seniors but there are two juniors who will fill their shoes and lead the team.
Hurd was invited to perform his winning humorous speech at Best of the Best in Lincoln on Tuesday, April 3. The Best of the Best highlights all the talent in the state.