The cheer from the back of the auditorium at Chelmsford High School during the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League’s State Speech Tournament told everyone in the room what the ending to the competition was going to be. For the fourth year in a row and the sixth in seven years, the first-place trophy was going to depart with Catholic Memorial.
CM’s speech and debate team once again bested the state’s top competition to win the 2023 crown with a powerful performance across the board, including eight first-place finishes and 16 team members scoring points.
“It just makes you proud of all the work that the team put in throughout the season. You are proud to see where we all started and where we are now, and you are very thankful for what Brother Cavet, Mr. Julian ‘16, Mr. Kandalaft ‘15, and everybody else that is associated with the program has done,” says Pat Blomberg ‘24
Blomberg ‘24 set a competition record with three first-place finishes in Oratory, Dramatic Performance, and Duos with Will Cummings ‘23. Blomberg now has five state titles in two years.
For Cummings, a team captain, his state championship in Duos was earned with a partner whom he only competed with for a year. In his previous three years, he worked with James Julian ‘22, a partner he qualified for Nationals with each year as a team. With Blomberg, Cummings continued his winning ways.
“Pat picked it right up. We have been great friends since middle school, so the chemistry was already there. He just took his skills from his other categories, and it translated very well,” Cumming said.
The team also saw a surprise performance from a newer member of the team Paul Mahoney ‘25. Struggling with Play Reading, the sophomore switched to Declamation at the recommendation of Coach Cavet. Entering the tournament with less than a half season's worth of experience, the novice was just as shocked as anyone to find out he earned an upset victory.
“I was astonished because I felt like there was a lot of really tough competition and everyone did really well. I honestly thought that I finished in third or fourth place, so just amazed,” says Mahoney.
Samuel Cahill Farella repeated as the state champion in radio. CM took four of the top five spots in the category with Morgan Lenehan ‘26, Ciran McGurran ‘23, and Colin Bligh ‘23 taking second, fourth, and fifth.
First-place finishes also went to Cole Burger ‘24 in Group Discussion, Johnny Cardarelli ‘23 in Play Reading, and Declan Smyth ‘24 in Prose.
In Children’s Literature, Samson Persson ‘24, Cardarelli, and Gus Bernard ‘25 finished second, third, and fourth. The team’s other runners-up were Chris Boensel ‘24 and Alex Pappas ‘24 in Duos, John Holland '25 in Novice Oral Interpretation, Brendan Jolley ‘24 in Oratory, and Samuel Gonser ‘24 in Student Congress.
The team will now shift their focus to the National Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament on Memorial Day weekend and the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Phoenix from June 11-16.