Congratulations to Speech, Debate Team For University of Kentucky Wins

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

The Morristown West Speech and Debate team competed in their first tournament on Sept. 11. This competition was hosted by the University of Kentucky. The team had nine people entered in events, and five out of nine competitors placed in final rounds.


Rylee Linkous placed 4th in Dramatic Interpretation (D.I.), 2nd in Poetry, and 1st in Prose. Her favorite thing about Speech and Debate is the connections you make over time. She believes this team is more of a family than a team because they all truly care for each other and want the best for each other. Besides Speech and Debate, she mainly focuses on her studies/other classes as well as helping her family, especially with caring for her younger brother, Xander Linkous, who suffers from many medical issues, as he honestly is her biggest source of inspiration.


Emma Whittaker placed 4th in Duo Interpretation with her partner, Faith Hodge. She loves getting to meet new people from different places, whether it's someone from Johnson City or California! She also loves getting to go and explore all of the college campuses when they are able to travel. Besides Speech and Debate, Whittaker focuses on her other coursework. She Is looking into starting to volunteer at Ridin’ High again. When asked what advice she has for students wanting to join Speech and Debate, she says “ Just go for it. There is a stigma that only "smart" people can do good in Speech and Debate, but that is the opposite of true. There are people here who excel at tournaments and struggle in any other classroom. Everybody here is always willing to help you with anything you need help with, and it is such a loving and welcoming environment that I'm happy to be a part of.”


Faith Hodge placed 4th in Duo Interpretation with her partner, Emma Whittaker. Her favorite thing about Speech and Debate is how she feels close with everyone on the team and how once you walk into the room, you are part of a family. She is involved in Student Council, Spanish and French Club, FCCLA, and National Honors Society. Her advice to students that are interested in Speech and Debate is to just do it, and the time and effort you put into it is worth it in the end.

The Speech and Debate Team during their first day of competition! Pictured are Maya Hill, Emma Whittaker, Rylee Linkous, Faith Hodge, Delaney Miksa, Marlee Smerdel, Kimber Strumski, Aarya Patel, and Joseph Parrott.
The Speech and Debate Team during their first day of competition! Pictured are Maya Hill, Emma Whittaker, Rylee Linkous, Faith Hodge, Delaney Miksa, Marlee Smerdel, Kimber Strumski, Aarya Patel, and Joseph Parrott.

Kimber Strumski placed 6th in Prose. Her favorite part about Speech and Debate is the strong sense of community within the team. Besides Speech and Debate, Strumski is also a member of Beta Club. Her advice for interested students is “do it because it can be extremely beneficial in so many ways.”


Maya Hill placed 6th in Poetry. Her favorite thing about Speech and Debate is the family-like atmosphere of the group and how she can ask for help without feeling afraid. Hill plays the guitar outside of school.


Aarya Patel, Marlee Smerdel, Joseph Parrot, and Delaney Miksa also competed in the Kentucky Tournament.




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