KEARNEY — The Wildcats blew away their competition Friday to win a second consecutive Class C2 Speech State Championship.
Hartington-Newcastle put up 162 points, scoring in eight of the nine events. Tri-County and Crofton tied for second place with 64 points.
Under the direction of superintendent and coach A.J. Johnson, the Wildcats have won six state championships — two since becoming Hartington-Newcastle, and four as Hartington High School.
“The determination of our team was on full display this year,” said Johnson. “A month ago, we were not a state championship team.”
Winning the team portion by 98 points, that can be hard to believe, but Johnson says the strong presenters really helped their teammates get their performances to the next level.
“We had some students performing at a high level, but not enough depth to win it all,” said Johnson. “But there was no quit in our team and our team leaders not only encouraged their teammates, they helped them. That is the mark of a true champion.”
In individual events, Hartington-Newcastle only won one category despite competing in eight of the nine.
One of two Wildcat Oral Interpretation of Drama (OID) teams took first place, with the other taking second. A team of Bennet Sievers, Teagan Scoggan, Reece Morten, Parker Hopping, and Isaac Bruning took the top place finish. The team is comprised of four freshmen and a sophomore.
The other OID team was made up of all juniors: Autumn Lammers, Abbe Morten, Sam Harms, Shaye Morten, and Dylan Dendinger.
The Wildcat OID team has typically dominated at State.
“This is the ninth time we have won OID, which is the event we have won the most,” said Johnson.
Overall, students coached by Johnson have taken 28 event state championships.
For Sam Harms, this is his third straight year making the Finals in Entertainment Speaking. He earned a first place as a freshman and has placed second in each of the past two years.
Willa Scoville made it back to the Finals in Informative Speaking for the second straight year. After placing in fifth place last year, she earned a second place finish this year.
Shaye Morten rebounded in the Humorous Prose event with a second place finish, after finishing in fifth place last year.
Here is a full list of how HNS finalists fared in Kearney:
• Bennet Sievers, Teagan Scoggan, Reece Morten, Parker Hopping, and Isaac Bruning - 1st place OID
• Dylan Dendinger and Isaac Bruning - 2nd place in Duet Acting
• Sam Harms - 2nd place in Entertainment Speaking • Willa Scoville - 2nd place in Informative Speaking
• Shaye Morten - 2nd place in Oral Interpretation Humorous Prose
• Autumn Lammers, Sam Harms, Dylan Dendinger, Abbe Morten, and Shaye Morten - 2nd place OID
• Brianna Hopping - 3rd place in Oral Interpretation of Poetry
• Brianna Hopping - 4th place in Persuasive Speaking • Abbe Morten and Belle Harms - 5th place in Duet Acting
• Autumn Lammers - 6th place in Oral Interpretation of Serious Prose
• Erin Meisenheimer - Did not make Finals in Persuasive Speaking