Speech team takes fourth, chess is 10th

First-place finish in humorous duet acting helps actors earn top-five finish in tourney

A dream came true Feb. 18 in Peoria for Hinsdale Central senior Tess McArdle.

"I've been on the speech team since my freshman year. I've always dreamed of winning state, and so it was really a surreal moment for me."

McArdle and her partner, junior Jackie Vogel, were the state champions in humorous duet acting at the state meet Feb. 17-18 at the IHSA state tournament in Peoria. The pair helped the team earn a fourth-place finish with 22 points. Wheaton-Warrenville South came in first with 34 points.

"It was really awesome that I got to do with it with Jackie because she's a really close friend of mine, and it was just a really special thing," McArdle added.

The two presented an eight-minute section of a play called "Parallel Lives" for their duet. They each played multiple roles, including the creators of humanity, in the sketch. This was the first year the two competed in this event together.

"We didn't know anything going into regionals and sectionals and state," McArdle said. "It was all new for us.

"We were just hoping we could pull something off," she added. "Jackie and I work very well together and were close friends, so I never worried."

McArdle also placed second in humorous interpretation presenting an eight-minute excerpt from "Graduation for Dummies."

"I've been doing that event since my freshman year, so that was a really awesome moment to be the runner-up at state," McArdle said.

Teammate Kevin Zhang and a dozen other students came in fourth with their performance in the round piece, a musical adaptation of a children's book called "The Invisible Boy."

The actors audition for a performance-in-the-round role late in the season, as the event only takes place in the state series of competitions. That means the students must put in a lot of work to hone their characters.

"We are proud of how far we had come," said Zhang, a senior. "We were grateful we were able to place so high."

Zhang, who competed in extemporaneous and impromptu speaking during the regular season, appreciated the opportunity to perform with his teammates.

"For me personally, it was great to be able to get to know these people better and see their talents more closely and see them shine," he said. "We definitely built some camaraderie. It was a good opportunity for all of us to get to know each other better."

Senior Leah Bradley took fifth in informative speaking and competed in special occasion speaking in the preliminary round.

"As a senior, I knew this would be my last chance to do it, and I'd never done it before," she said. "I was honored to be there in two events. I knew it was going to be a special opportunity to bond with my teammates."

She earned her place in the finals - and her medal - with a speech on salt, a topic proposed by her coaches.

"At first I was kind of like, 'Huh. Really? That's what you want me to do a speech about?' " she recalled.

But when she began her research, she found the topic compelling.

"Especially it was the history part that got to me," she said. "It has been so important and so valuable and we don't even realize it."

Ajay Gupta also made it to the state finals, placing second in impromptu speaking and third in extemporaneous speaking.

Paul Woods said he and the other coaches were ecstatic with the team's finish.

"We had a bunch of kids who qualified for the state finals. They performed so well in them. This was a special group of seniors," he said.

During the Saturday night awards ceremony, Woods noted, first-place finishers are given a microphone to perform their pieces for all in attendance.

"It's an amazing opportunity to see what is the best in the state in all 14 events," he said. "It's been fun. Over the last number of years we've gotten to watch some of our students perform on that stage."

Chess team places 10th

The Hinsdale Central chess team came in 10th at its state meet Feb. 10-11 at the Peoria Civic Center.

"This was one of the most talented teams we've had, just in the sense of the caliber of players at the top and the experience through the middle boards and down near the bottom was really high," coach Dylan Canavan said. "We expected to compete for a trophy at the state meet. We were right there. All the opportunities were laid out for us. We came up a little bit short."

The team, which has competed at state since 2005, has placed as high as third three times and has been in the top 10 a dozen times.

Team captain Daniel Lee said his goal was to enjoy the experience.

"Since it's my last year, I was hoping we could have a lot of fun," he said. "We had a really strong team and I was hoping we could get wins where we could."

The team lost to eventual state champion Stevenson in the fourth round on the first day, scoring more points against them than any other team.

"I think the match with Stevenson was pretty close," Lee said. "I think our team is one of the most mentally strong ones in the state, in my opinion, and so we were just able to bounce back pretty quickly and pick up another two wins on the next day.

The team lost to Walton Payton College Prep in the last round of the tournament.

Lee, who plays board one, and Millan Whittier, who plays board two, created YouTube videos for their teammates to help them improve their skills, Canavan noted.

"It's a lot of fun teaching," Lee said. "I just really love the fact that I can teach people the game that I love."

Lee hopes more students will join the team, noting the game is not as intimidating as some might think and the people involved are incredible.

"It's so much fun," he said. "The chess team holds a really close place in my heart."

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean