July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Wadsworth teen uses Jedi word trick to nab top rank at state tournament

A short time ago in a city  not-too-far away... Wadsworth student Dimitri Georgiadis became the state’s top funny man after he won the state speech and debate tournament for comedy. (COURTESY PHOTO)

A short time ago in a city not-too-far away… Wadsworth student Dimitri Georgiadis became the state’s top funny man after he won the state speech and debate tournament for comedy by performing “Jedi Academy” by Jeffrey Brown. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Wadsworth student Dimitri Georgiadis claimed the top title in the Humorous Interpretation category last weekend at Wooster High School, receiving top marks from 14 of 20 judges over seven rounds of competition.

“I don’t think anyone in the district or team thought he’d be the champion, but he’s believed in himself and I’ve believed in him and his parents have,” head coach Vicki Mathews said. “He’s been a best man a lot, and finally he’s the groom.”

Mathews said the senior has won some tournaments this year and consistently placed high in the competitions.

He is also the alternate for Wadsworth’s national tournament-qualifying team in the comedy category.

Gabe Reed will represent the district at nationals in Overland Park, Kan., in mid-June. To attend that tournament, students must place among the top competitors at one of 110 district tournaments.

Reed, Daniel Brazier, Olivia Pickard, Christopher Benson, Matthew Depero, Ryan Moore and Mina Hoffman all will represent Wadsworth in the national competition in June after taking first in their respective categories at the Eastern Ohio Big District Tournament at Massillon-Perry High School Feb. 14 and 15.

But at the state tournament last weekend, Reed didn’t make the final cut.

Georgiadis said he was disappointed that his best friend did not join him in the championship round.

“Gabe deserved to qualify for nationals and more than deserved to be in that final round with me,” he said. “I was sad he didn’t make it.”

The piece Georgiadis performed was called “Jedi Academy,” based on a children’s book series by Jeffrey Brown.

Georgiadis played all the characters in the performance including Yoda, Darth Vader and Chewbacca, and somehow fit former President George W. Bush into the mix.

He said when they were selecting his piece for the season, he and his parents went to Barnes and Noble to look for children’s books because they knew that many finalists in last year’s tournament had adapted them for performances.

Both he and his mother approached each other holding the same book.

“I’ve loved ‘Star Wars’ since I was a little kid and I loved the imagination and creativity that went into ‘Star Wars’ and that’s what humorous interpretation is all about,” he said.

Georgiadis adapted the story into a 10-minute one- man show about a boy named Roan, whose dream of being a starship pilot is dashed when his application is denied by a letter from Darth Vader.

But a second letter from Jar-Jar Binks tells him he’s been accepted to the Jedi Academy.

Roan soon comes to learn that it may have been easier to just accept his other fate and attend Tatooine Agricultural Academy.

The big moment comes when he’s bullied by someone.

“You’re the new kid, right?” the bully said. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Roan.”

“Heh-heh, Roan? Roan, Roan, Roan your boat gently down the stream.”

“That’s not funny!” he said, as if looking up at the bully.

Then Georgiadis picked someone in the audience and said to them directly, “It’s not!” as if to scold them for laughing.

“This is the moment the room erupted with laughter in the final round,” said his mother, Leslie Georgiadis. “Dimitri later said he knew it was the moment he could win, because of the strong reaction from the judges and crowd.”

She said from that point the crowd was with him and the laughter didn’t stop. “He had stopped performing what contestants call a ‘cutting’ and Dimitri was putting on a show.”

Georgiadis is a multitalented performer who’s participated in speech for four years and has been in most plays during his high school years, including the role of Capt. Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” later this month.

He’s also competed in drama but said he enjoys humorous interpretation most.

It showed Saturday.

“I was disappointed not qualifying for nationals and so I wanted to win state,” he said. “My parents worked me hard, gave me a lot of coaching, and I knew that was it, it was the time to leave it all on the stage.”

Georgiadis’ mother used to coach speech and debate at Revere High School and his father, George, was a national qualifier and state finalist in drama in his day.

Dimitri Georgiadis gave the same performance seven times in that tournament and said the last was his best.

“I had all the adrenaline in the world at that point,” he said. “I couldn’t have found a better way to go out.”

It was good enough to defeat seven other finalists and win five first-place votes out of six judges on the panel.

Georgiadis also won the Joseph Kuldau Award for the most first-place votes of the tournament.

Georgiadis was the highlight of the tournament but his team fared well: Wadsworth placed 12th out of 59 schools.

Nine teams advanced to the top 16 in debate, with that of Matthew Depero and Ryan Moore finishing 12th. Jack Bruno advanced to the semifinals in Congressional Debate but did not place.

Seven made the top 12 in their competitions and two made the top 24. Besides Georgiadis and Reed, Pickard and Hoffman made the top 12 in Drama, while Jordan Perrin and McKenzie Kovacs advanced in Prose and Poetry. Benson made the top 12 in United States Extemporaneous Speaking. Rebecca Habig advanced to the top 24 in Original Oratory while Benjamin Peters qualified in Oral Interpretation.

Mathews extended thanks to her assistant coaches Sam Zulia and Andrew Golden, and volunteers Nick Glunt and Josh Grant.

Highland High School also did well at the tournament.

Sara Hoose advanced to the semifinal round in Student Congress. Continuing to the top 12 in the semifinal round were Carolyn Kusosk in Original Oratory, Ben Lewis and Jeff Rolland in Impromptu Speaking, and John DiGiacobbe in United States Extemporaneous Speaking.

Overall, Lewis placed fifth in the state, and DiGiacobbe was the second runner-up. This marks the first time the team had students win trophies in individual events, placing in the top six in the state.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.