MERCER – After being “snowed out” of its appearance at the Pine-Richland Invitational Tournament a week ago, the Mercer speech team hosted its 45th Annual Invitational Tournament Saturday at Mercer High School.

For the 17th consecutive year, the event was sponsored locally by the Mercer Rotary Club. More than 215 speakers from schools in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia took part in the four-round competition which featured nine individual speaking events plus two “debate” events, public forum debate and student congress. Individual awards were presented to all speakers who placed in the top seven of their chosen events.

Team sweepstakes trophies were presented to the top ranking teams in both individual events and debate competition. The tournament was dominated by three deep and talented large-school teams: Upper St. Clair High School (first place), Wheeling Park (W.Va.) High School (second place), and North Allegheny High School (third place). Each team entered more than 30 participants and garnered more than 150 sweepstakes points.

Ten Mercer High School Speakers received awards for placing in the top seven in their chosen events. Mercer’s four duo interpretation teams won awards for placing third through sixth in the two-person team competition.

Eighth graders Ainslee Konkle and Willow Myers won third-place plaques. The pair was given a second-place and two thirds in three rounds of performing, and actually tied for second-place on rank totals but placed third based on the first tiebreaker, reciprocal fractions.

The team of junior Megan Hogan and freshman Liam Mount won fourth-place medals; sophomores Allie and Maddie Laughlin won fifth-place honors; and seventh graders Elizabeth Rowe and Audrey Allen finished in sixth-place.

In addition, Mercer junior Michaela Adams advanced into the final round of seven contestants in dramatic interpretation, placing fifth overall out of 23 contestants. Michaela was ranked in the top half of her competition on four of six judges’ ballots, including one first-place and one second. In informative speaking, seventh-grader Lexie Walker won the fifth-place medal. Two of Lexie’s three judges ranked her in the top half of competition.

On Thursday, Mercer speakers competed in a two-round Catholic Forensic League tournament hosted by Greenville High School. Five Mercer speakers were awarded ribbons as well as $200 scholarships to Gannon University for placing first in their events. They included senior Cole McDuffie (original oratory), sophomore MacKenzie Meyer (oral interpretation), eighth-grader Alexander Hamilton (dramatic performance), and Ainslee Konkle and Willow Myers (duo interpretation).

Mercer speakers will continue in forensics competition on Saturday as 28 team members travel to Wexford to compete in the Hampton High School Invitational which will be held at North Allegheny Intermediate High School.