Four Vikings take five awards at revamped invitational

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove High School speech and debate team members include Brenden Ashby, Luke Berdahl, Frannie Monahan, Ian Schlegel, Derik Mendez, Erin Harmon, Archer Morgan and Jack Thias. FGHS hosted Saturday´s invitational.Two hundred speech and debate students representing nearly 20 school districts from across Oregon came together in town Saturday for a revamped Forest Grove High School Invitational.

When the dust settled after a long day that featured 15 events, four FGHS forensics students had placed in the top three in five separate areas.

Luke Berdahl took first place in extemporaneous speaking; Brenden Ashby landed first place in student congress; Archer Morgan nabbed second place in Lincoln-Douglas debate; and Ian Schlegel grabbed third place in two events, oratory and impromptu speaking.

Advisor Kathy Turner was thrilled.

“We’ve resurrected the FGHS Invitational,” said Turner, noting that Jennifer Conner, assistant director of forensics at Pacific University, coaches the local high school team. “For years, we had a team to be reckoned with and hosted a highly respected tournament.”

Longtime coach and staff advisor Sue Cowan retired in 2008, Turner said, “and ever since we’ve been finding our feet again.

“In our determination to stay alive we’ve developed quite a partnership with Pacific and are running the team in a manner that is way out of the ordinary.”

Conner worked with Berdahl, a senior, who competed last year at the National Forensics League Competition in Indiana. And, she coached Oregon state champion Derik Mendez in after dinner speaking.

In 2011, the FGHS team competed in 14 tournaments, earning 10 first-place trophies and 24 trophies overall.

Judges and volunteers organized by FGHS volunteer coordinator Angela Tucker were present all day Saturday, managing events featuring students from Beaverton, Cleveland, Glencoe, Lake Oswego, Rex Putnam, Southwest Christian, Summit (Bend), Tillamook, West Albany, West Linn, Westview and Wilson high schools.

Rounds started at 8:30 a.m. and awards were presented around 8 p.m. Other FGHS team members included Frannie Monahan, Derik Mendez, Erin Harmon and Jack Thias.

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