IHS Speech Dominates at State Qualifying Tournament

Contestants bring home first place sweepstakes and six individual trophies

By Arya Sureshbabu | Staff Writer

Despite its reputation as the most difficult tournament hosted by the Golden Gate Speech Association (GGSA), this year’s Individual Events State Qualifying Tournament ended on a positive note for Irvington’s Speech Club, with over half of the nine participants bringing home trophies. The tournament, which took place on March 1 at James Logan High School, determined which contestants in the league would advance to the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) state tournament in April. Aside from these individual achievements, Irvington won first place sweepstakes in the small schools division of the league for having the highest number of awards per person throughout this year of competition.

Juniors Eleanor Yan and Abhinav Bhardwaj were finalists and state alternates in Oratorical Interpretation, while sophomore Steffi Kwok qualified to attend the state competition in the same category. In addition, juniors Rohit Dilip and Arya Sureshbabu qualified to compete in the state tournament in the category of Impromptu Speaking. Junior Kelsey Ichikawa will also be representing Irvington in Oratorical Interpretation at the state tournament, as she automatically qualified for the tournament by winning first place in the category at all three league tournaments.

Competitors were especially proud of the sweepstakes award, which they felt finally gave Irvington the appreciation it deserved for being able to successfully compete against much larger teams with access to more resources.

“It’s a really special milestone for the speech club,” said team captain Kelsey Ichikawa. “It’s nice to get recognition for our efforts because a lot of the time, small teams like ours get overshadowed by schools where speech is an actual class and they bring in professional coaches.”

For many contestants from Irvington, this was the first tournament in which they participated in the varsity level. The increase in difficulty proved an educational experience, as it gave them a chance to observe higher level speakers as well as to develop their own styles.

“Everyone was on top of their game,” commented freshman Elisheba Dhilpe, who participated in National Extemporaneous Speaking. “Competing in varsity is an entirely new level, with deeper analysis.”              “Everyone was suddenly ten times better than I’d ever seen before,” agreed sophomore Steffi Kwok. “It made me want to step up my own game and try to match their abilities.”

In spite of the extreme competition they encountered in their rounds, Irvington students unwound during down time and found the overall experience to be entertaining as well as informative.

“The atmosphere wasn’t too intense,” noted junior Raya Kuo, a competitor in Oratorical Interpretation. “During breaks in between rounds people were joking and laughing around, so it was pretty nice.”

The tournament also proved to be a bonding opportunity for many members of the Irvington team. When asked about her favorite part of the tournament, Steffi Kwok stated, “The best part was probably bonding with awesome people and tying ties. For half an hour.”