Thursday, May 6, 2010

State Champion! Moncrief Wins Oratory; The Shipment Third in New York

April 25, 2010

The Bronx Prep Speech team produced a bang-up result against New York forensics' finest, with a seriously impressive haul at this year's State Championships, held over the weekend in Mineola, NY. Of four entries, three reached the semifinals, two competed in a final round and one came away as the New York State Champion for 2010!

That champion would be Team Manager, Chris Moncrief, who completed his speech career at the state level as the most decorated orator in New York history. Records going back to 1982 indicate that he is the only student in NYSFL history to win two state championships ('08 and '10) in Original Oratory! Combined with his runner-up finish last year, Chris's string of 1st, 2nd and 1st from 2008-2010 is one that may not be equalled by another student in New York for years to come. Chris will compete against the best in the country in his quest to make it to the stage for the final round of the National competition in June. Congratulations on a fantastic tournament and another remarkable finish!

But that's not all! Both Bronx Prep Duo teams reached the Semifinal round, establishing the teams of Tiffany McLarty/Keegon Robinson and Deborah Allen-Carr/Tayshawn Layton as two of the ten best this year in New York. Deborah and Tayshawn did not advance to the Final round, but showed poise, dedication and passion as they put together a new version of The Princess Bride in roughly two weeks. They finished in 8th place and deserve mad props.

Meanwhile, Tiffany and Keegon, posted very strong ranks in the other Semifinal room and advanced to the Finals, where they performed as the final contestants in the round. A buzz filled the room as the took their places - the effect of the considerable reputation these two have achieved throughout the year for their hilariouis and thought-provoking interpretation of Young Jean Lee's The Shipment. The performance was near perfect and the room was uproarious in its response - causing the two to pause frequently for the big laughs as the clock kept running. With a time limit of 10 minutes, thirty seconds, the crowd held it's breath while the timekeeper made his announcement: "10:29!" A gasp of elation and sigh of relief went around the room, as the performance was recognized as within the time limits and up to the judges to decide.

Ah, those judges. The Duo final had five of them and they each brought their own unique perspective. Every judge chose a different team as the last place performer and the scores were all over the place. When they were added to the preliminary and semifinal results, the Bronx Prep team ended the day in 3rd place. To this blogger, the team was clearly the best in the state, but interpretation events are notoriously subjective and their piece is not necessarily for the conservative-minded. Regardless, Tiffany and Keegon's bronze finish is a massive accomplishment. They should be proud not only for this recognition, but for bringing an important piece of theater with an important plea - to talk about race - to a wider audience. Mad props to Tiffany and Keegon for starting a conversation - this is what speech is all about.

That fourth entry? That was Sahirah Johnson, one of Bronx Prep's Rookie Sensations (along with Norberto Troncoso, who came along to support the squad), competing in JV Oral Interpretation. Sahirah posted strong ranks for her Prose and Poetry pieces, but just missed the break in a very competitive event. Here's a shoutout to Sahirah for an awesome season - she joined the team halfway through the year, practiced as hard as any other member, picked up her own hardware and strung together two big finishes to qualify for the State Championships. Expect big things from this young lady in 2011.

With States in the books as a major success, the team looks ahead to the two national tournaments: the CFL and NFL championships. Only Mr. Moncrief will compete at NFL's, but Bronx Prep will field three entries at the CFL Nationals over Memorial Day weekend in Omaha, NE: Tayshawn Layton goes on her own in the event of Dramatic Performance, Keegon and Tiffany look for a wider audience in Duo, and Chris will look to break through at a tournament that is consistently unreliable.

Here's hoping the 2010 postseason keeps rolling along for the Bronx Prep Speech Team.