AURORA – Peter Alisky entered the 50and State Tournament of Speeches and Debates at Cherokee Trail on Saturday, determined to win his second championship.
More than that, the Smoky Hill senior wanted to end his high school career by extending the Alisky family’s reign as the All-American Champion Spoken Word for one final season before graduating as the youngest.
Peter Alisky’s older brother Michael Alisky won the event as a senior in Peter’s freshman season in 2019. Peter Alisky missed the chance to win his own title as a sophomore when the state championships of 2020 have been canceled due to COVID-19. Last year he broke through and won when the tournament was held virtually and this year Peter Alisky successfully defended his title as the American Champion of Improvised Speech.
He had to overcome a few unusual years, but Peter Alisky finally accomplished exactly what he set out to do by making Michael Alisky, who was in attendance for his younger brother’s yet another victory on Saturday, proud.
“It’s been three straight years of Alisky dominating,” laughed Peter Alisky. “Michael is the reason I got into the business and he was a senior when I was in freshman year. I started it because of him. So when I graduated I wanted to pursue his success because between Michael and my coaches, that’s all I know about the activity.
For Peter Alisky, as well as many others who participated in this year’s State Tournament of Speeches and Debates, the return to in-person competition was a welcome rectification. It was also a new challenge for those who had only experienced the virtual competition of 2021, which posed its own challenges but may also have pardoned competitors from some others.
“It really means a lot to me to win this year,” Alisky said. “I remember being so excited for my sophomore state tournament in 2020. So winning last year when it was online meant a lot because I finally had the opportunity to compete . But online speech and debate is so different from in-person speech and debate, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could win if it was online and I could also win when it was in person.
“It means a lot to complete my last year in a row.”
While Peter Alisky left Cherokee Trail as a two-time champion and after winning a third title for his family, he wasn’t the only competitor to walk away with a trophy. Impressive seasons in a dozen other events culminated during this year’s two-day event.
In the dramatic performance, Fossil Ridge’s Olivia Wang took first place. In duo performance, Elias Goss and Elijah Goss of Denver East were the winners. Abby Colodny also won the speaking performance program for Denver East.
George Washington’s Sammie Armatas took home the first place award for Comedy Performance. Patriots speaker Kailey Sieja scored another victory for George Washington in an informative speech. Gabri Notov won the poetry reading to claim a third title for George Washington, and the pair of Katie Jack and Maria Cook won the political debate for the school’s fourth.
At the convention event, Carter McDonald of Rock Canyon was crowned champion. At the end of the Lincoln-Douglas debate contest, Allison Willner of Rock Canyon was victorious.
Speaking international improvisation, Pine Creek’s Caleb Chung won it all. The team of Stevie Chen and Wilson He won the public forum debate for Fairview.
In the original oratory, Nkechi Onyejekwe of Pueblo West claimed the title. Unlike Peter and Michael Alisky, this year’s two-day event was the first-ever state speech and debate experience for Onyejekwe, a freshman who decided to try speech and debate for the first time this season.
But much like the Alisky brothers, Onyejekwe can now aim for a dynastic discourse and debate of his own.
“It was definitely a whirlwind season,” Onyejekwe said. “At first, I was a little doubtful before I got into it. It took me a little longer than I would have liked to memorize. But the more I started to compete, the more I started to develop a bit more confidence, which made things a bit easier. My goal was to break the top six, which as a rookie is, I think, a really good result. But, obviously , winning first is a bit surreal.
“With all the finalists, I think they all had amazing speeches. And we all had great camaraderie between us, so we supported each other. I wanted to win the first one, but because of that, I really didn’t care if I was first or not. I was just happy to be there. When I heard I was first, I thought I was dreaming or something.
A total of 72 schools and more than 400 participants participated in this year’s 50th Speech and Debate Tournament.