Connelly Cowan with her UIL State Bronze medal
Photo 2, L to R: MPHS State Congressional debate team members Ryan Sharp, Isabella Greco, and Connelly Cowan
Contact: Kelly Cowan
MPHS Congressional debaters bring home State awards
February 2021 was another historic moment for the Mount Pleasant High School Speech and Debate team. UIL State Congress had already been postponed from January to February due to COVID-19 concerns. But the rescheduled dates of February 14-15 would have them come face-to-face with the worst winter storm Northeast Texas had seen in years.
Preliminaries began on February 14 with two MPHS competitors competing from the MPISD Administration Building and a third competing from home under the impending start of the winter storm and deteriorating road conditions. Day one would see forty-three 5A competitors representing 25 school districts from across the state of Texas. They split representatives into three groups of 14-15, known as Chambers. After two preliminary rounds, the top five competitors from each chamber would advance to day two, known as Super Congress. At the end of day one, seniors Ryan Sharp and Isabella Greco, and junior Connelly Cowan made program history, as it was the first time Mount Pleasant would advance all of its representatives to Super Congress.
At 7:45 on the morning of day two, the UIL postponed Super Congress due to the winter weather and loss of power in many state areas.
It would be a full week of waiting before the representatives would compete in the State Finals. On February 23, the three MPHS finalists resumed competition at the MPISD Administration Building on a beautiful, sunny day where the high would reach 77 degrees, a far cry from the sub-zero temperatures of just a week prior. At the end of day two, they would award six competitors UIL State medals, and one would get the Top Presiding Officer gavel.
Cowan was named the 2021 UIL State Congress Bronze medalist in 5A. It was her second appearance at Congress State, and her fourth appearance at UIL state meets overall. The finish earned her a fourth state medal, adding to her state championship in Informative Extemporaneous Speaking, her bronze medal in Cross-Examination Debate, and her fourth-place medal from State Congress in 2020. She will now shift her focus to Cross-Examination Debate.
“Competing at Congress State this year was a unique challenge,” said Cowan. “Every year, success demands hard work and hours of research, but this year was even more difficult. Switching to an online format limits interaction with your competitors and removes nonverbal cues which can be so important to public speaking. Delaying finals also created an unforeseen roadblock that we adapted to. I’m so grateful to walk away with a bronze medal. I’ve dedicated so many hours to this event and was truly passionate about the performance I gave. I want to thank Coach Martinez for his support to our team as well as my parents for their dedication to my success.”
Sharp and Greco earned 5A Congress State finalist standings, landing them in the top fifteen 5A Congress competitors in the state. It was the third appearance at state for Sharp and the first for Greco, capping off outstanding UIL Congress careers. Both will shift their focus to Extemporaneous Speaking for the district meet later in March.
The next major events for MPHS Speech and Debate are:
- The online National Qualifying tournaments on February 26-27 and March 5-6.
- The online Texas Forensic State tournament on March 11-13.
- The online UIL CX Debate State tournament on March 19-20.