It was a winning weekend for the speech teams at both District 99 high schools.
Downers Grove South placed second and Downers Grove North placed fourth in the IHSA Individual Events Team State Championship at the speech state meet, held Friday and Saturday in Peoria.
In addition, three students—Dan Leahy (South High), Natasha Prosek (South High) and Alex Buckley (North High)—were all crowned state champions in their individual events.
South High Results
South High’s team, led by head coach Nicole Carreno, captured second place in the state meet. Senior Dan Leahy was named state champion in Original Comedy, and also received third place in Prose Reading. Junior Natasha Prosek is state champion Humorous Interpretation.
Three other students received four state medals: senior Dhara Puvar took third place in Original Oratory category and fourth place in Oratorical Declamation), senior Jane Drews took fifth in Dramatic Interpretation and junior Mariah Copeland took sixth in Poetry Reading.
Other student members of the South High speech team were Alex Werner, Stephanie Coupland, Supal Mehta, Lian Luckansky, Natasha Prosek, Elly Walsh-Rock, Grace Grannan and Taylor Meek.
South High also received second in state in PIR (Performance in the Round) and received a plaque. Members of this group were: Livvi German, Steve Rusky, Jack LeBaron, Mike Maloney, Megan Vacek, Joey Saponara, Rose Murphy, Zach Kennedy, Brett Cohen, Resse Richardson, Chelsea Octava, Mariam Mackar, Matt Chiaro, Josh Burke and Patrick Mitchell.
“I attribute everything to my coaches and the students," Carreno said. "This team has worked so hard to continue the legacy that Jan Heiteen built in over 30 years of coaching. It was such an amazing experience to have her come back to help out and for all of the students to achieve so much in a transitional period. They have made the past Mustangs proud!”
Other coaches of the South High speech team include: Chris Blum, Justin Matkovich, Jennifer Hernandez, Julie Schwarz, Omar Uddin, Hunter Evans, and Morgan Manock.
North High Results
North High’s team, led by head coach Missy Carlson, placed fourth overall at state. Senior Alex Buckley was crowned state champion in Impromptu Speaking and also received second place in Extemporaneous Speaking. Junior Nicole Smith received a third place medal in Humorous Interpretation and senior Kate Karl brought home a fourth place medal in Oratory.
Other student members of the North High speech team include: Katie Portman, Nikki Kay, Julie Thorn, Delaney Gagliano, TJ Marszewski, Andy Osterling, Tom Lally, Evan Culligan, Alejandro Hernandez, Julia Lambert, Samantha Lanigan, Michele Manzo, Isabella Ruggiero, and Tanner Ryan.
“This year we had to overhaul a lot of speeches to get ready for IHSA competition, and fortunately much of that hard work paid off,” Carlson said. “The students were amazing to work with and supported each other so ardently throughout. We’re lucky to work in the best speaking district in the state!”
Other coaches of the North High speech team include: alumni Joe Cozza and Andrea Mikenas, Jena Abrahamsen, Kelly Parratore, and Jen Keating.
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