Winning any state championship is special, but this one meant a little more for Jarod Ockander.
The director and his David City High School one-act team claimed the Class B state play production title Friday at Norfolk's Johnny Carson Theatre, the school's first one-act championship since the Scouts won it all in 2007 in Class C-1.
The Scouts, performing "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus," earned a perfect score of 180 in Norfolk, beating runner-up Cozad by four points.
David City’s Jackson Hardin (Dr. Faustus) was named best male actor, and teammates Bethany Tebbe (Helen) and Will Heller (Mephistophilis) were also named outstanding actors. David City had the most individual honors in Class B.
Heller and Hardin said the David City one-act team is like a family.
“If someone makes a mistake, we make sure we team up and help the person,” Heller said. “We don’t leave anybody under the bus. We hammer it out. We make sure it's fixed.”
Hardin, whose character never left the stage for the entire 30-minute play, downplayed the honors.
“If it wasn’t for Will and the rest of the team, I would not have been the best actor,” he said. “I do not look as good as I do without the rest of these people.”
Winning the District B-3 competition at Milford High School made David City more confident than it was before.
“I can tell you our district was one of the toughest in the state. We had Aquinas, Neumann, Sutton and Seward,” Heller said.
During Friday's celebration, Ockander said his team had “one half of a bad day at practice.”
“This group really comes to work and they come ready to practice," he said. "At practice the objective is to get better and they have an understanding of that. They hold each other to the high standards."
David City qualified for state one-act for the 12th time and won its third championship.
Carrie Osborn of Cozad was named best female actress. Pierce High School's crew was named outstanding crew of the competition.
Friday night, the David City team got the escort back into town by sheriff’s deputies and fire engines.
Tebbe said that the “Faustus” play was so strong that the Scouts were bound to win.
“I think this was one of the strongest pieces that I’ve been in,” she said. “We’ve had strong pieces but this won just pushed us through. We would just practice so hard and we would be so focused. Our team chemistry was just so good and that always helps.”
The acting award “shows that a lot of my hard work paid off. I’m really blessed to have a great coach like Ockander. I love acting and the arts,” she said.
Part of the reason this year’s title is so special is the results of the past four years at Districts.
“We’ve been beaten (at districts) by the state champs four years in a row,” he said. “If we would have been at state any of those years, who is not to say under a different judging panel we could even beat (the champions).”
Ockander said he’d like to see the Nebraska School Activities Association address some of the issues at the district level to “make it more equitable.”
“The other problem you have, is you have areas that are geographically strong programs. When you get to state it is whoever has survived,” Ockander said.
Smaller schools face the challenge of having a smaller talent pool, and beyond that, they share their participants with other activities.
“You have to carve out practice time and make it work for everbody,” Ockander said. “A lot of these kids work jobs and things too. You are working around all those schedules. If it is a priority for you, you are going to make it work.”
Record of Success
David City qualified for State One Act for the 12th time. Here are the NSAA records for the team's success by class and year
State Champion: C1/2005, C1/2007 B/2017
State Runner-Up: C1/2000, C1/2001, C1/2002, C1/2006, B/2011
Third Place: B/2008
Qualifying Years: C/1986-I, C/1993, C/1994, C1/2000, C1/2001, C1/2002, C1/2005, C1/2006, C1/2007, B/2008, B/2011
Outstanding Performance Winners:
2005 Michael Betzen
2007 Madison Shore
2008 Michaela Hruska
2011 Elizabeth Hruska
2017 Jackson Hardin