Menke, Bills Named National Champions

Liberty Menke and Thomas Bills stand by the American flag after winning God, Flag and Country national championships.
Staff Writer

From The Little City to the national stage, two Rangers climbed the ladder in the Eagles God, Flag and Country speech contest. On July 6, they reached the top of the competition and came home as national champions.

The journey for junior Liberty Menke and freshman Thomas Bills began at the school level competition in February. From there, they took top honors in four other levels of competition to punch their tickets to the national level. For Bills, this was his first trip to the national competition and he said it gave him a goal to work toward for the next few years.

Bills was named the winner of the 12 to 13 years olds and was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Eagles as his prize.

For Menke, this was her last chance to compete in God, Flag and Country and she wanted to end her speech career on a high note.

As a 2017 champion, Menke had been to nationals before and knew what she needed to do. But knowing what to expect is only part of the competition.

“This time around I knew it was my final year in GFC so however I would end it, it would be the last,” she said. 

Menke was also awarded a $1,000 scholarship for claiming first place in the 14 to 15 year old group.

Having New Knoxville students win two out of the three age groups at the national level has helped the nation recognize the accomplishments of Ohio and Auglaize County. 

Menke and Bills hope it helps young students see the potential that exists within the competition.

“I would encourage anybody who can do it to do it,” Bills said. 

Both students agreed, though, that they couldn’t have been named national champions on their own. Both acknowledged the hard work, dedication and support they received from their adviser, Linda Wolf. 

Menke added that the pair received support from the community and family as well.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of the Tuesday, July 16 edition of The Evening Leader.