Ayden Gertiser, Junior
Number Sense, Calculator, and Math
Ayden won 2nd at state in calculator and 4th in math and led the calculator team to a 2nd place finish. He has qualified for state in all three competitions for two years in a row, and last year he won a silver medal in math. COVID robbed him of the opportunity to try for state as a freshman.
Ironically, calculator is not his favorite event.
“Number sense is my favorite. It’s not necessarily my best event. It’s really fast paced. It’s a super adrenaline rush. Math is definitely my best event.”
He said he loves the math program in general.
“It’s just a great program for getting to be better problem solvers and being better at math in general. It’s a great group. Everyone in there is super motivated. It’s just such a good environment.”
Arnav Reddy Garlapati, Sophomore
Arnav qualified for state as part of the calculator team, which finished 2nd in the state. Calculator is one of his favorite events. He also likes number sense and math.
“I just like how you can use your knowledge to get some of the harder questions. There’s a lot of physics stuff on it too. It’s complicated decimals and fractions – they are huge numbers. I like challenges.”
“I’m just very excited for state.”
Dillon Muckatira, Junior
Dillon said earning a spot at state was exciting and motivating, even though the team felt very prepared.
“We were confident. We had been practicing a bunch. We knew we had what it takes. Now we want to bring home a state championship.”
The team came close, finishing 2nd in the state. He said he puts in the work because he is competitive.
“I like the competition. I want to win.”
Vincent Mercado, Senior
Vincent went to state last year in calculator, and he said that experience helped this year.
“We were more prepared. We knew what to practice. It was just a routine test.”
The team won silver medals, finishing 2nd in the state.
“We were expecting to go to state because we had been putting in the work. We were all pretty excited, and we were happy our hard work paid off.”
Daniel Duke, Senior
Daniel was an alternate to regionals last year. This year, he was not only the regional champion, but he also won a silver medal at state.
He said his experience last year motivated him this year.
“I saw that if I applied myself, I could do it. Starting in May, I started reading the book and studying. I’ve always wanted to go to state. It was a goal of mine. I put my mind to it. I would say it’s paid off.”
Mason Kerby, Senior
Mason said Poetry Interpretation is very similar to acting.
“I like it because it is a great chance to take on roles that are super hard to act out and really take you to the limit,” he said.
Mason won the district championship and finished 2nd at regionals to earn his second consecutive spot in the state meet.
“I’m super excited,” he said. State results were not available at press time.
Brendan Hurt, Junior
Congressional Debate, Informative Speaking
Brendan earned his third consecutive trip to state in Debate and his first in Informative Speaking. This hear he qualified for the finals in the state congressional debate competition. The finals are conducted in the State Capitol.
“It was a different experience debating in the capitol. It was so cool. You get to feel the history in the building. This is where our actual Congress members debate our bills. I thought that was really cool.”
Mia Dole, Senior
Mia earned her second trip to state, only this year, she actually got to go. Last year was a virtual competition. She liked the in-person competition better.
“You get a lot more of an experience by being there and interacting with people. It was a lot more chaotic. I definitely prefer actually getting to face off against people.”
“The experience is so amazing, especially the tour you get to take of the capitol. It was so much fun.”
Alondra Correa Velderrain, Junior
Alondra said she decided to try debate because she felt like she might be good at it.
“I always like to be aware of what’s going on in the world. I’ve always been very passionate. I’ve always been told I am good at debate, so I decided to try it.”
After earning a spot at state, she’s glad she did. She also was an alternate in cross examination.
“It has helped me so much with public speaking and how to conduct a good conversation. I look up to people who have been debating longer than I have. I have learned a lot.”
Kade Killion, Senior
Kade teamed up with Garrett Jones to form a cross examination team. They debate on the same topic the entire year and have to know the subject matter inside and out and be prepared to improvise when necessary.
“It’s an hour and a half essentially arguing a topic and then asking questions and trying to find a hole in your opponent’s case.”
He said Garrett was a great partner.
“Garrett was tremendous. We complemented each other well. We prepared hard all year and when the time came for district, we felt like we were actually prepared to make it to state.”
Garrett Jones, Sophomore
Garrett was partners with Kade Killion this year, and he said Kade was a great teammate.
“I can play on Cade. It’s nice being in a partnership. He’s a great partner. We each have our own skills that we bring to the table.”
He said the pair had to be quick on their feet to do well.
“Knowing the details is super important. Staying organized and being able to improvise are the two main skills you need. If you can improvise, you can get through anything.”
Alyssa Nicole Ransted, Senior
Alyssa said that failing to make regionals last year really motivated her for this year.
“I felt that defeat last year and was disappointed with myself. I figured I could do better. Now that I am a senior, I really wanted my senior year to have a legacy. I wanted to be really great at something. I’m pretty good at literary criticism. So I decided to put a lot of work into it.”
It paid off. She finished 6th in the state. She said her teammates really helped her.
“They are incredible. We all do really well as a team. Maybe we will make a tradition of going to state every year.”
Grace Rhodes, Junior
Grace also advanced to regionals in news writing, but just barely missed out on a trip to state. She is new to literary criticism but likes reading and analysis.
“It seemed right up my alley. I knew it was going to be difficult but I did not expect it to be as difficult as it was. The first portion of the test they can literally put anything on there. You can try to prepare, but they can pick anything and in reality you are not going to know every single thing.”
She said getting to state took a lot of work, but also has lots of benefits.
“I knew it would make me a better test taker, and it’s made me a better student overall. It made me way faster at taking tests.”
Gracie Hurst, Junior
Gracie is advancing to state in only her first year on the team. She said she got involved in the event at the request of her teacher, Mrs. Kirby.
“I’m a big reader. It’s all about reading and analyzing, so it’s helped me a lot in my classes. The more I learned about it, the more it appealed to me. We get to read things we don’t usually read in our English classes, and we get to dive into some more advanced topics and learn more about literature as a whole.” She said she was thrilled when she learned the team made state.
“I was so happy. We studied really hard. I was so glad that as a team we could succeed in this way. I was especially happy for our seniors. They deserve it so much. It was a big deal, and it was a very exciting moment.
Dayra Figueroa, Senior
Dayra joined the team at the last moment last year but ended up qualifying for regionals. That experience made her want to do better this year.
“I definitely got a feel for how much harder the tests are at that level. I saw how serious people were about it at that point. That set my mind to try harder for this year and how I was going to study.”
It worked. She finished 4th at state and led her team to a 4th-place finish. Ironically, Dayra is in mostly science classes and plans to study bio-chem in college. But literary criticism has been a nice change.
“It’s kind of fun to do reading and abstract things and analysis, and it makes me a more well-rounded candidate for college. I was like science is my thing, but I’m glad that I did it.”
She has tried to pass her experiences at regionals down to her younger teammates.
“They are really cool. They are super diligent about studying. I would give them advice from last year, and they would take it and run with it. It’s nice to have a strong team, and we can all go to state together.”
Mychele DeLauney, Senior
Mychele is a science-minded student, who somehow found herself in literary criticism. She has already been accepted to the Air Force Academy next year.
She said this event is very different from her science classes.
“It’s a lot more subjective. I kind of like the analysis part. I get to say what I think, and there’s no right or wrong answer. It gives you a lot more freedom to be creative.”
She said she has enjoyed working as a team and is proud the team finished 4th at state.
“We do a lot of the stuff as a team. If I’m studying, I will pull in members of the team. I’m just a big fan of teamwork. We are all just really good friends. We get along well. It’s helpful to have everyone willing to work hard.”