TYRONE, BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A senior at Tyrone Area High School is doing something no other student has ever done before.

“Last year Mario came in fourth in the state,” Leah Deskevich, Speech Team Co-Advisor, Tyrone Area High School. “This year he was our local, our regional, our state, our national semi-finalist, and now a national finalist. No one has ever done this at Tyrone before.”

Mario Grugan is one of just nine students in the country to compete in the national Poetry Out Loud competition.

“I enjoy the expression that you can find within poetry,” Grugan said. “Trying to figure out what the poet is trying to say and express it.”

For the competition, he was asked to recite and record three poems for a panel of judges to score.

“So many people think that reciting poetry is just a matter of memorizing a bunch of lines, but really you have to have an intimate understanding of the poem, ” Erin Murphy, a Professor of English at Penn State Altoona and the poet laureate of Blair County, said. “I think that’s what sets Mario apart from all of the other competitors.”

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Grugan not only recites poetry, but he also writes it. His poem “Concrete” was runner-up for the Poetry Ourselves competition.

You can watch Grugan compete to become the Poetry Out Loud National Champion on Sunday, June 5th starting at 7 p.m.