MARSHFIELD, Mo. -- Out of the thousands of high school students, a national champion in one category of speech and debate is from Marshfield High School. In the speech and debate world, this is as good as it gets.
Bailey Norton competes in Humorous Interpretation. Her 10-minute performance of Little Miss Sunshine -- with 9 characters in it -- makes her the best.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that only a few students in the country ever get to experience. Bailey's final round in Indianapolis was taped in front of a live audience.
“Were you nervous?” a reporter asked.
“Oh yeah! I was terrified. There were 4,000 or 5,000 people sitting out there,” Bailey said Wednesday.
Before making it all the way to the finals of the National Forensic League competition, her performance was perfected in a room at Marshfield High.
Bailey competed and placed at more than a dozen tournaments this year in Missouri. She's also the state champion.
“Bailey is where she is because she worked,” said her coach.
Her coach says Bailey practiced her interpretation every day.
“I think the repetition she did during practice of doing it over and over is why it was so clean,” said speech and drama teacher Greg Holtschneider.
“I think that's what it comes down to. If you want something bad enough you can get it if you try,” said Bailey.
By qualifying for nationals, Bailey was already in the top 1 percent of the country. Then she beat out 250 people to get her trophy.
“Winning is beyond what I could comprehend but making it to finals had been one of my goals. Anything past that point was just gold,” she said.
Bailey he says this high school activity has changed her life.
“I'd probably be really mediocre at track. I would have no idea where I would be right now. I'm so grateful I was blessed enough to be in this program and to have success with it. It's just taught me so much about myself. It's given me a confidence I wouldn't have gotten otherwise,” she said.
Bailey received more than $6,000 in scholarships from this win.
Two other students -- one from West Plains and one from Branson -- also made it to the national semifinals in humorous interpretation.