NORFOLK — One point made all the difference Thursday.
Five-time defending state champion Hartington-Newcastle ended their reign on Thursday, finishing second at the One Act State Championship.
Judges scored Pawnee City one point higher than Hartington-Newcastle, forcing the local cast and crew to settle for the state runner-up trophy.
“I think they (the cast and crew) were disappointed. I mean it’s difficult when you have won five in a row to come down to second, but I also hope they are proud of that accomplishment,” Coach AJ Johnson said. “Very few teams get to win a state trophy, so I hope they can look back at that and be proud. I know I am.”
This was not the first time HNS lost this year. Wausa beat Hartington-Newcastle in Conference, before the Wildcats won their District event to advance to the state championship. Wausa went on to earn the state title in their division.
With solid senior talent like Jacob Gothier, it is a bit of a surprise that HNS did not continue their streak another year.
Performing “Man of La Mancha,” two judges gave either a perfect or near perfect score, while another gave a 54/60.
Interestingly enough, Pawnee City also received a perfect and near perfect score, while receiving a 55/60 from a third judge. Different judges gave the lower scores to Hartington-Newcastle and Pawnee City.
Often these can be explained by seeing a slight verbal or physical stumble or trip, or the pace of entrances and exits is sometimes too long on the much bigger Johnny Carson Theatre stage.
“The judges had different things they were looking for, and a couple of them I wish we had thought of,” Johnson said. “Overall, I think they liked the performance, but it just wasn’t quite what a couple of them were looking for that day.”
Runner-up for the state championship is still a fantastic thing for the Wildcats, Johnson said.
After winning five straight, it may be easy to look down on this accomplishment, but earning Runner-up proves that “Man of La Mancha” was still a great act that unfortunately just fell one point shy of the win.
“I think the kids performed extremely well. I’m proud of their performance. They were entertaining and did everything we asked them to do.”
Many of the One Act coaches admitted that all a cast and crew can do is put on the best performance they can, the rest of it is subjective to the judges.
“I thought there were good plays and good performances. It is state so you hope that there are,” Johnson said. “You know, I thought that our kids gave a championship level performance and that’s what we were looking to do.”
With a runner-up finish it is obvious that Hartington-Newcastle still knows how to put on a superb show, and is still a threat for any school to worry about during the One Act season.