She talks quite a game

Ashley Schotzko leads strong Marshall contingent at NIETOC in Denver with a second-place overall finish

MARSHALL – Ashley Schotzko at a loss for words?

That’s what success will do.

Schotzko, a Marshall High School senior fresh off a Class AA state championship in Great Speeches, led the way in Marshall’s continued late-season success by finishing second overall out of 154 competitors in Original Oratory at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions (NIETOC) in Denver, Colo., over the weekend.

“I don’t know what to say; I’m a little bit speechless,” Schotzko said in a phone interview with the Independent on Sunday afternoon after the awards ceremony. “It’s really exciting. It was a great tournament.”

Schotzko was actually one of seven Marshall Tiger speech team members to qualify at the NIETOC. Her feat marked the first time the school has had a student reach the Top 6 at the prestigious event in five tries.

Schotzko’s topic for Original Oratory is sex education – a topic she said she believes is very important. Her passion on the subject gives her confidence to speak about it in front of others.

“When speaking, you have to be 100 percent confident and really own your message,” she said. “I care about what I’m talking about. This topic is a personal one, and I just focus on getting the message out to as many people as I can.”

Marshall junior Matthew Rich (Drama) also advanced out of preliminaries into the Top 60 in Drama out of about 200 competitors but did not advance further. Rich said team members had to wait about three hours to find out how they did after two days of competition.

“Everyone was waiting in this little gym and they were dropping these scrolls down for us to see,” Rich said. “Everyone was looking for ‘096’ because that was our school code. I’m looking and realize my code is up there, and Ashley’s code was also up there. It was a pretty exciting moment, because it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a national tournament.’ I didn’t expect to go that far.”

Marshall team members arrived in Denver on Thursday and spent that day together, preparing and relaxing, Rich said.

Marshall’s other five NIETOC qualifiers this weekend were: Allie Lamote in Humorous, Kayli Ginocchio in Original Oratory, Mariana Oaxaca in Duo, Michael Gutman in Original Oratory and Joe Blanchard in Duo.

Schotzko and teammate junior Kassidy Tocco will now compete at the June 12-17 National Speech & Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.