Poetry team wins state championship

Central’s All Wrights Reserved Poetry Team is a Nebraska state champion. 

“It was amazing to hear our name called when we won,” senior, Isabella Mitchell said. “All our hard work finally paid off.”  

The team consists of Isabella Mitchell, Aiden Whalen, Savannah Sipp, Grayson Shuler-Morgan, Lilly Stecker, Jaylin Sims, and Noa Gilbert. They defeated Skutt Catholic, Norfolk and Lincoln High this month to win their first ever poetry championship. 

To qualify for state the team had to make it through a tournament series called bouts that started at the end of March. Teams from all over the state competed at venues across Nebraska.   

“It’s schools competing and as you win you advance to the next round,” club sponsor and English department head, Jonathan Flanagan said. “It’s similar to the March Madness bracket for basketball.” 

At the state competition there are five rounds, four individual and one group contest.  The team was in first place by a point going into the fifth and final round.  

“Going into fifth round we knew it was a close match,” Mitchell said. “We had to really bring it and practice a lot to get a championship.”  

The state competition took place at the Holland Center with a crowd of professional poets, parents and students.  

“The energy at state was very exciting, Flanagan said. “They played music and had local poets there to cheer everyone on.”  

At the state competition, five judges listened to the poetry, then took a minute to hold up a score between one and ten. 

“The scoring during state adds even more excitement,” Flanagan said. “The team is very supportive and cheers when the score is high and boos if they think they deserve a higher score.” 

Junior Aiden Whalen said the judging was intense. 

“It was a nerve-racking situation since it was so close,” Whalen said. “It could have been anyone’s game.”  

But 2023, was the year of the Eagle as it was the team’s first state title while coach Flanagan has been there.  

“It was an emotional rollercoaster all season,” Flanagan said. “Seeing the team get their medals and trophies was really a surreal moment and I’m proud of this team for all the hard work they put into the year.”