Tyrone’s oldest sport rides again in Williamsburg


Kenny McKernan

Junior AJ Grassi with several awards that he didn’t win, as senior Adam Zook looks on.

Tyrone’s oldest sport, the Speech Team was back in action again on December 8, 2015.   Seven speakers, two observers, two gym teachers, and the famous Richard Merryman traveled to Williamsburg to compete in the first of three annual competitions.

The speech team at Tyrone has been in existence since for over 100 years, making it one of Tyrone High School’s oldest student activities.  It has been led by Mr. Richard Merryman for many years. He is assisted by Tom Coleman and Marcus Owens.

“I am really proud with how the team came together and their performance. If they would have taken the entire team’s scores and averaged them, we would have won,” said assistant coach Tom Coleman.

While the competition was a success for everyone, Tyrone only came away with two winners.

I competed in the serious category and lost to Paige Umholtz. I am never going back

— Junior AJ Grassi

Senior Adam Zook won the Senior High Poetry division with a score of 56 out of 64.  Zook read Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden.

Junior Paige Umholtz won the Senior High Serious division and was also the highest scorer for Tyrone with a score of 61 out of 64. Umholtz read Eleanor Roosevelt’s remarks on the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  She also was the third highest scorer of the competition.

Juniata Valley came home with the team trophy, Williamsburg took second and Tyrone finished third.

While Tyrone didn’t win competition, those who participated had a great time.

“I really enjoyed [the competition]. I was nervous at first, but once I got there, I felt instantly at home. I am excited to compete again in the future,” said junior rookie member Nathan Hormell.

At speech competitions, participants read their chosen pieces twice, in front of two different judges.

Students can complete in one of four categories, poetry, serious speech, humorous speech and original work.  The competition also has two divisions – junior high (7-9) and senior high (10-12).

“I competed in the serious category and lost to Paige Umholtz. I am never going back,” joked rookie speech team member, A.J. Grassi.

Each judge scores the performance on several different focus areas, including speech introduction, which each performer writes themselves, voice speed, eye contact, and appearance. Judges can give scores from one to four for each focus area. The scores are added together to get the performers total score.

The speech team will compete next at the winter competition in February.