Journalism state meet members bring home results

By Gina O’Neill
Copy Editor
With senior Keelan Murphy’s fellow team members seniors Mike Hammersley and Katie Ritchie clenching one arm while senior Karolina Chwala and junior Riley Simpson held on to the other, Murphy anxiously anticipated the results of her IHSA State Meet competition.
Murphy looked up as her advisor, Jason Block, yelled down from the balcony full of teachers to cheer her on as the sixth, fifth and fourth places dwindled down, and Murphy’s name still had not been called.
When the announcer thundered out, “From Mt. Prospect, Prospect High School’s Keelan Murphy” for first place, all she could do was sit there, shocked.
“I wasn’t expecting to win anything,” Murphy said. “I thought [I’d get] fifth or sixth if I was lucky.”
The five members of the Prospector staff who headed down state must have been pot-of-gold level lucky if that’s what they are basing their success off of.
Prospect brought home first place in Yearbook Copy Editing by Keelan Murphy, third place in Advertising by Karolina Chwala, fourth place in Feature Writing by Katie Ritchie, and fifth place in Copy Editing by Mike Hammersley.  Prospect snatched a sixth place title overall in the state competition held at Eastern Illinois University.
To calm their nerves, Ritchie and Murphy spent the time before their competitions conducting a “ritual” in a red room at Eastern, hanging out and snacking away their anxiety. At one point, Block named their snickers and popcorn combo the “lunch of champions.”
Even though her nerves were tingling away as she wrote, not fully eased by the “ritual,” Murphy managed to choose an angle for her story that highlighted the struggles and accomplishments of a student council president, even though the information given to her stressed the negative aspects of student council.
Murphy believes that her positive take on the issue helped her to achieve success, as the yearbook tends to concentrate more on the positives in general.
Although she knew she had included all the components of a solid story, such as a lead, good quotes, a clincher and a definitive angle, she still wasn’t confident she would place, which means receiving a first through sixth place award.
“All you can really do is do the best you can,” Murphy said. “It depends on how everyone else does.”
Murphy is referring to the fact that some of the decision has to do with which person judges each story, and even if “you give your all, everyone else could do better,” landing you a fifth or sixth place spot.
For Hammersley, the situtation was a unique one. He competed in copy editing, which is judged solely on how many errors one can find in a story. Because of this, he knew he was being judged on his skill to look up errors and not a judge’s bias.
“It’s not really realistic,” Hammersley said. “I have 90 minutes to read the same short story over and over again. I found most [errors] in the first 10 minutes, and in the next 80 minutes, I found one error every 10 minutes.”
Much the same as Murphy’s case, however, Hammersley was never sure whether he was performing better than anyone else, which is daunting during the writing process.
With the whole process finished, Murphy feels good about the experience, and although she may continue on with magazine journalism at Marquette University next year, she describes it as “a nice way to end journalism at Prospect.”
“It’s nice being recognized for something I love doing.”
The Prospector state finalists stand together outside of Prospect before leaving for the state journalism competition.
The Prospector state finalists stand together outside of Prospect before leaving for the state journalism competition.