More than 200 students from 12 different area schools flocked to Beatrice High School over the weekend to participate in the BHS speech competition on Saturday.
Performances began at 9 a.m. and the finals concluded around 3:30 p.m. Though Beatrice didn’t place among the top teams, speech coach Ed Ankrom praised BHS speech students for their work throughout the season.
“We’re halfway through the season, so there’s always room to grow,” Ankrom said. “The kids will get their feedback back on Monday and we will figure out what they need to change, adapt, practice. A lot of it comes down to the commitment of memorizing and maybe trying new things at the next meet.”
Ankrom has served as the head coach of the BHS speech team for the past 11 years, and he worked as the assistant head coach for three years before that. In that time, he has inspired students to branch out and get out of their shells.
BHS junior Chase Barber and senior Jouquin Fox perform poetry pieces at speech competitions. They said that participating in speech team has helped them develop important skills that they can use in the future, including enunciating their words, speaking with emotion and filling a room with sound.
Molly Hurley, a senior at BHS, has participated in speech since her freshman year.
“The reason I joined my freshman year was because I was in Mr. Ankrom’s—our speech coach’s--algebra class, and he kept pointing out how fun speech was,” Hurley said.
She decided to give it a try and ended up enjoying herself so much that she participated in speech all four years. Even after she graduates, Hurley intends to return to help judge future speech competitions.
Judges critique performances based on diction, presentation, eye contact and visual aids if they are used, Hurley said. They also judge how well students work together and their acting skills, as well as the content of their performances.
“There’s nine different categories of speeches you can give,” Hurley said. “There’s informative and entertainment, there are platform events, you have your humorous and serious prose, poetry, duet acting, OID (oral interpretation of drama)—which is a three to five-person acting group—and you have extemporaneous speaking, where you get your topic and write it within 30 minutes before you perform.”
Hurley has experience performing informative and entertainment pieces, and she has done duet acting, OID and persuasive speeches. She has been working on two speeches this season in the entertainment and persuasive categories.
“My favorite part is the thrill of performing,” Hurley said. “I love getting in front of total strangers and acting like a different person. It’s great.”
Omaha Skutt Catholic 67, Beatrice 43
Diller-Odell 61, Friend 46
HTRS 49, Lewiston 30
Meridian 46, Osceola 45
Norris 66, Nebraska City 27
Southern 69, Sterling 44
Freeman 45, Palmyra 33
Johnson-Brock 77, Tri County 61
Norris 60, Columbus 50
Beatrice 58, Omaha Gross Catholic 44
Diller-Odell 39, HTRS 37
Elmwood-Murdock 38, Freeman 26
Mead 39, JCC 30
Meridian 67, Osceola 35
Pawnee City 33, Lewiston 19
Sterling 40, Tri County 20
One person was injured in a two-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 77 at the Diamond-T Truck Plaza north of Beatrice on Friday morning.
At around 6:45 a.m., the Gage County Sheriff’s Office and Beatrice Fire and Rescue were dispatched to the two-vehicle injury accident at the north entrance of the Diamond-T Truck Plaza.
According to a press release, the crash investigation revealed that a 2018 Freightliner, driven by Marlin Slobodan, 55, of Kitchener, Ontario, had stopped at the stop sign leaving the Diamond-T Truck Plaza, then proceeded to turn south onto U.S. Highway 77, failing to yield to a northbound 2000 Ford Focus driven by Joshua Shepardson, 28, of Wymore.
Shepardson was transported to the Beatrice Community Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while Slobodan reported no injuries.
Neither alcohol nor drugs are believed to have been a factor in the crash.
Aubrey Trail confessed Monday that Sydney Loofe died at his hands — the result of accidental asphyxiation, he claims — and that he has offered to give the FBI information about another, similar incident two years ago.
Despite his public admissions of responsibility for Loofe's death, which happened nearly three months ago, it remained unclear Monday when criminal charges might come.
The FBI only has called Trail and his girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, persons of interest in the death of the 24-year-old Lincoln woman, whose remains were found Dec. 4 in Clay County.
While investigators quietly work the case, Trail has taken to the media to claim "responsibility" and "accountability" in recent weeks.
On Monday, he put it bluntly: "I killed Sydney Loofe."
"I am accountable. I physically am the one who caused the end of her life. Me and only me," Trail said in a call to the Journal Star from the private prison in Kansas where he's being held on a federal stolen goods case.
Trail first confessed that he killed Loofe in an interview aired Friday night on Lincoln TV station KOLN/KGIN.
On Monday, he told the Journal Star the "incident" started at the Wilber apartment where he and his girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, lived. She brought Loofe there Nov. 15. Trail said they moved around that night, before Loofe died early the next morning in a house in Saline County.
He wouldn't say where the house is.
Trail said he was in a room with Loofe and two other women, and that he was holding an unspecified object which restricted Loofe's breathing and — according to him — unintentionally caused her death. Boswell was not in the room, he said.
The Journal Star has chosen to leave out more sensitive details.
Asked why they didn't call 911, Trail said it would not have been treated as an accident, based on how they lived.
"We didn't, I guess, live a fine, upstanding lifestyle," he said.
But, Trail said, he wasn't making excuses: "Sydney Loofe should not have died. I deserve life (in prison) or death."
Trail said there is "no way on this planet" he would be exonerated at trial based on the evidence.
"I'm guilty. I did it," he said.
Trail said he promised Sunday to give investigators information about another case similar to Loofe's almost two years ago, before he met Boswell. But he declined to give details about that Monday.
Trail said he told the FBI he would continue to provide the media with increasingly "gruesome" details about Loofe's death if he doesn't get what he wants from investigators.
He anticipates prosecutors will charge he and Boswell in connection with Loofe's death. He took credit for the story they told investigators soon after Loofe's disappearance in which Trail and Boswell claimed they dropped her off at a house in Lincoln.
Trail on multiple occasions since his arrest in November has stopped short of confessing, saying he is in bad health and not sure how much longer he'll be around.
"I don't want a witch hunt for people who shouldn't be witch-hunted," he told the Journal Star.
Soon after, Trail said, he didn't want anyone to believe a word he said, but to verify.
Trail claims he has given the details to law enforcement as recently as Sunday when he spoke with Lincoln police and FBI investigators.
Trail has implored prosecutors to charge him in the case and Monday said he would plead guilty, even if facing the death penalty.
An FBI spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.
Joe Jeanette, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nebraska, said federal prosecutors are only involved in trying Boswell and Trail for an alleged fraud scheme that bilked a Kansas couple out of more than $400,000.
Loofe's case probably will be prosecuted in state court, not the federal system, Jeanette said.
Neither Saline County Attorney Tad Eickman nor Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly immediately responded to a request for comment. One of them likely would make the decision.
Kelly's office has hired a special investigator to look into the case.
Trail's attorney, Korey Reiman, also declined to comment on Trail's statements to the media.