Speech team ends strong season

Four students compete at state, two take home runner up


(From left to right) Courtney McMullen ‘23, Sophie Barrett ‘23, London Shannon-Muscolino ‘25 and Nicholas Barbera ’23 at the state final competition at the Peoria Civic Center (photo courtesy of Madeline Morris).

Sadie Ruppert, Reporter

The LT Speech Team ended its 2023 season by making history. They sent four competitors to the State competition at the Peoria Civic Center, which was the most students they’d ever sent. London Shannon-Muscolino ‘25, Nicholas Barbera ‘23, Sophia Barrett ‘23, and Courtney McMullen ‘23 all qualified for and competed at the State competition.

Barbera and McMullen competed in dramatic duet acting and placed second in their event at State this year.

“It was such a big deal to get to that point at State, and it was really exciting,” McMullen said.

To qualify for State in their event, McMullen and Barbera had to get at least third place at sectionals.

“The day of sectionals was really stressful,” McMullen said. “It’s a really long day and it was very overwhelming, but it was still so exciting to find out we made it to state at the end of that day.”

 McMullen, Barbera, and Shannon-Muscolino’s events were all coached by Madeline Morris, who was a new Speech coach this year. 

“Coach Morris really helped our team in getting to this point at state this year,” McMullen said. “She had a lot of very specific and strong feedback that helped us a lot.”

As a new coach, Morris was very excited to get involved with the LT Speech students and team, she said. 

“I have coached speech previously, but my experience at LT has been especially good,” Morris said. “The students care so much about their material and performance that they are always committed to speech, and invested in their performance pieces. It has felt more like a partnership than a coach and student relationship since I came to LT.”

Morris worked with Barbera, McMullen, and Shannon-Muscolino throughout the season, and helped to prepare them for their State competition, she said.

“It was really cool to see the students perform at the State series,” Morris said. “They worked so hard, and it was entirely their effort that got them to that point. I loved getting to see how proud of themselves they were after their final performances.” 

Head coach Sarah Pouls felt the same sense of excitement and pride for her students, she said.

“I had so much confidence in our students, and I definitely had some proud mom moments as I saw them move on to advance to the next levels of the state series,” Pouls said. “I was especially proud when I saw Nick and Courtney take second place.”

The state series began on Feb. 17, and ended on Feb. 19. It was the end of the competitive high school speech season this year. The team begins meeting and practicing again at speech camp in the summer.