SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. -- The Union Catholic Forensics Team had another very strong showing at the prestigious 44th Liberty Bell Classic this past weekend at the University of Pennsylvania.
Union Catholic was led by sophomore Ben Abood and freshman Riley Roder, who advanced to the quarterfinals in Declamation, and the tandem of junior Nola Gialanella and senior Molly Bonner, who placed fifth in Duo Interpretation.
Bonner and Gialanella, who placed fifth out of the 37 duos in the competition, were very optimistic because of some changes they made with their piece, "Fun Home'', which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015.
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"We were really confident because we switched things up in our piece halfway through the year and that definitely improved things for us,'' said Bonner.
Gialanella said the changes in the piece made a huge difference.
"We weren't doing as well earlier this year, so we switched the characters around,'' said Gialanella. "We figured we had nothing to lose, so we gave it a try. "We both explored the characters a lot differently than we had originally been doing, and we just resonated better after the switch.''
Abood, who did Oral Interpretation last year before making the switch to Declamation this year, said he surprised himself with his performance.
"I was pretty proud of myself because in each round the competition got tougher,'' said Abood. "As the day went on I was actually getting less confident that I'd advance, but I wound up doing a lot better in each round than I thought I did. I was pretty surprised and really happy with how I did, and with how our whole team did. It was great to see all of our practice pay off.''
Roder, who advanced to the final round at Patriot Games Classic at George Mason University in December, said UPenn was the toughest tournament she's competed in.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking,'' said Roder, who switched from Oral Interpretation to Declamation earlier this season. "It was harder to break than at other tournaments, so I'm very happy with how I did.''
Union Catholic Head Forensics Coach Edward Sagendorf was very happy with how his team performed, and said it was a great bonding experience for the team.
"This past weekend at UPenn was an all around success,'' said Coach Sagendorf. "Our students performed very well and received a lot of positive feedback from the judges. This is one of my favorite forensics meets because it is a great opportunity for our team to bond with one another. Our last meet for the season is March 2 and our team will be ready!'
For 56 years, Union Catholic High School has earned its reputation as one of New Jersey’s foremost Catholic secondary schools.