SMFHS Speech and Debate team gears up for Nationals

The students will compete virtually against thousands

Courtesy of Jimmy Miller
Jacob Strang
Nathan Marotta
Sarah Schmidt
Meghan Huelsman and Connor Powers
Coach Jimmy Miller, Emily Keyser, Nolan Miller, coach Cody Stanley and coach Shelby Miller

The SMFHS Speech and Debate team will log in for the final time this season to compete at the NSDA National Tournament. 

The tournament runs from Monday, June 14 to Saturday, June 19. After a season in which the Bulldogs placed ninth in the state of Ohio, the team's seven competitors will test their mettle against some of the country's stiffest competition.

"Nationals is always a tremendous test for our program, but I think our students are tremendously prepared," said Jimmy Miller, co-head coach of the program. "We're honored to bring this group out to Nationals and no matter the result, we're so proud."

The team's first qualifiers were senior Emily Keyser and sophomore Nolan Miller. Keyser is the team's first qualifier in Program Oral Interpretation in program history, while Miller is the first qualifier in Humorous Interpretation since 2015. 

Just a few weeks later, sophomore Nathan Marotta qualified in Congressional Debate, becoming the team's third qualifier in the category in two seasons. Last year, Alex Virostek and Tim Sedor also qualified. 

Then, juniors Sarah Schmidt and Jacob Strang were named to the Eastern Ohio's district World Schools Debate team. Both are first-time qualifiers. Schmidt competed in Extemporaneous Speaking and Strang competed in Public Forum Debate during the regular season. Last year, Gabby Hawk and Allie Vale had also been named to the team.

Finally, Stow's coaches were able to select two additional qualifiers for the first time in supplemental categories. The coaches named senior Meghan Huelsman and junior Connor Powers to be added to the team. Both reached semifinals at the national qualifying tournament, and Huelsman reached the state semifinal round this season. Powers became Stow's first-ever state champion in Humorous Interpretation.

"The students on the team this year easily could've given up and it would've been hard to blame them. This was a difficult year for many reasons," Miller said. "But the students kept showing up, week in and week out, and so they deserve the best Nationals experience we can possibly give them from the confines of Stow-Munroe Falls High School. We are so excited to watch them compete one last time."