The Downers Grove South High Speech Team has been named State Champion in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Speech Tournament. The tournament was held at the Peoria Civic Center on Feb. 21 and 22. The 2020 State Championship is the 19th time the school has earned the top spot in the state tournament, and the third state title in the past four years.
Members of the State Championship Speech Team include: Chris Sapinski, Sydney Richardson, Kate Riley, Kaej Spears and Samantha Simmons.
In addition, the following South High students were named Individual State Champions:
- Peter Burrows - State Champion in Original Comedy
- Peter Burrows and Caroline Venetis - State Champions in Dramatic Duet Acting
- Alaina Vergara - State Champion in Informative Speaking
Other students earning top spots in the tournament included:
- Kira Matheson - 4th Place in Radio Speaking
- Jackie Barba - 5th Place in Impromptu Speaking
- Zoe Boyd - 5th Place in Oratorical Declamation
In addition, the team competed in the Performance in the Round event with “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and Three Quarters,” earning 6th place. Students on the team included: Catherine Hewawissa, Ethan Eberhard, Gwen Royle, Jo Stewart, Julianna Crooks, Kassem Ossman, Kyra Cain, Mathew Rusky, Matthew Jablonski, Megan Harmon, Meghan Carroll, Ryan Rosignal, Samantha Wiggins, Sammy Bachara, Sophia Girik, and Stefan Tambik.
Other students on the team include sectional finalists: Sydney Richardson and Chris Sapinski, as well as state qualifiers: Samantha Simmons, Kate Riley, and Kaej Spears.
“I am so proud of these students. They are competitors to the very end, and never forget what it means to be a team. To be a championship team takes more than just breaking to a state final. Every student who competed throughout the season, or helped mentor the younger students or supported their friends in a round play an important role in winning a championship.” said South High Head Speech Coach Justin Matkovich. Matkovich is an alum and current teacher, as well as a former IHSA State Speech Champion in Humorous Interpretation.
Others who have helped with the program through coaching roles include DGS staff members and alumni Chris Blum and Sean Liston, as well as DGS Speech alums Peter Szpytek, Hayley DeSilva, Tessa Lawler, Jon Hansen and Josh Durham. The team is also coached by coaching veteran Elighie Wilson and hall of fame coach, and former DGS speech head coach Jan Heiteen.
“The South High speech team continues to amaze us with their level of success. However, one of the most impressive things about this group is in how they positively represent themselves, their school and their community.” said South High Principal Ed Schwartz.