Groveton UIL Literary Criticism team wins 2nd consecutive state competition

An East Texas literary team recently won first place at the state competition for the second year in a row.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 1:08 PM CDT|Updated: May. 24, 2023 at 8:04 PM CDT
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GROVETON, Texas (KTRE) - The Groveton High School UIL literary criticism team just earned their second state title, with three team members placing in the top five in individual scoring.

Jeremy Gentry, the District Librarian and sponsor for the team says the team, studies and prepares year-’round to compete for the title.

He says each year the competing students are assigned the same novel, play, and poems to read, analyze, and know inside and out.

“It’s trying to learn what are the core things that they have to know for all of the tests. Part of it you have to apply the knowledge and not just memorize stuff,” Gentry said.

Each meet consists of a test with four parts. The first is literary terms and dates. They are then asked questions on the play and novel. The third part is questions regarding the poems. The final part is an essay based on a prompt of a poem in case there is a tied score.

This year two members on the team tied for first at state, so the tie-breaker essay was used.

Gentry’s daughter is one of the students.

“Which was a neat ending for me, the best of both worlds. I get my daughter winning, of course, which is awesome, but also one of the kids that I have been with for the four years who I love,” Gentry said.

Freshman Lauren Gentry’s essay came out on top, earning her first place.

“It was pretty shocking, when we saw we had the same score I was pleasantly surprised, and we didn’t know how the essay was going to go, and when I heard I won I was pretty happy,” Lauren said.

Senior Braxton Luna placed second. He’s been on the team for three years. He and Gentry set records with their scores.

“I’ve been chasing getting an 80 all year and I finally got it at regionals. But this year wasn’t only a personal record, but it was also a school record for state,” Luna said.

Sabine Snyder, a senior, placed fifth.

“To be able to show everybody that we can excel and in something that is so hard; to see it all come together and actually win means a lot to not just us but the whole team,” Snyder said.

Junior Kelsie Shank has been on the team for two years. She says all the hard work bonds them closer and makes their team stronger.

“It’s nice because we are more than just a team, these are my best friends. I hang out with them all the time. We hang out after school, in school, we do stuff as a team not even related to the literary criticism; we have a good team bond,” Shank said.

Freshman Mason Mosley was the alternate for the team. He still competed at every meet but his test wasn’t used. If it had been, he would have placed 12th in the state.

“It was great, even though my test is the alternate and doesn’t count to the overall score, it was great to be there for my teammates and know I took the exact same test as they did,” Mosley said.

Students say the skills help them understand literature from different time periods, analyze and break down questions and overall build a strong work ethic for anything they come across in their future.