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State Speech Tournament set

Eight 2011 champions qualified to seek more gold

Four 2011 state speech champions return to defend their titles in the same category, while four other returning champions will seek gold in a new category at the 2012 State Speech Tournament that will be held at Chanhassen High School on Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21. Class A competition will be conducted on Friday and Class AA competition will be conducted on Saturday.

The material chosen by competitors ranges from the classics - Third Inaugural Address by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Class A Great Speeches - to the contemporary - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran in Class AA Serious Interpretation of Prose. The material written by the competitors themselves always evokes interest, often in titles alone, such as Rachel May's Occupy Sesame Street in Class AA Creative Expression, or Erika Pritchett's Vampires, Unicorns and Quantum Physics in Class A Original Oratory.

The tournament features the top three qualifiers from each of eight Class A sections and from each of eight Class AA sections in 13 different speech categories. The 2012 tournament qualifiers represent 171 high school teams - 100 Class A teams and 71 Class AA teams.

Students from 328 Minnesota high schools participated in speech during the current school year on 211 Class A teams and 117 Class AA teams.

The categories are: 1) Serious Interpretation of Prose; 2) Serious Interpretation of Drama; 3) Serious Interpretation of Poetry; 4) Humorous Interpretation; 5) Storytelling; 6) Extemporaneous Reading; 7) Creative Expression; 8) Original Oratory; 9) Great Speeches; 10) Discussion; 11) Extemporaneous Speaking; 12) Informative Speaking; and 13) Duo Interpretation.

Class A Highlights

The Class A field features 37 returning medalists from 2011. Three gold medalists return to compete this year, one in the same category and two in a different category. The 2011 champion returning in the same category is Priyanka Thakrar of The Blake School of Minneapolis in Original Oratory.

The returning champions competing in different categories are Matt Nordquist of Fairmont and Morgan Potter of Windom Area. Nordquist won in Creative Expression last year and will compete in Humorous Interpretation this year and Potter won in Serious Interpretation of Prose and will compete this year in Serious Interpretation of Drama.

Two competitors who won titles in 2010 also return this year. They are: Londyn Robinson of Luverne in Discussion and Veronica Lesnar of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in Extemporaneous Reading. In 2011, Robinson placed fourth and Lesnar was third in those same categories.

Two additional previous champions also return to competition this year. Brady Ysker- Giefer of Windom Area, who took top honors in Serious Interpretation of Poetry in 2009 and placed third last year, will compete again in the same category. Jeff Rueter of St. Cloud Cathedral won Creative Expression in 2008 and will put his skills to the test in Storytelling this year.

The other returning 2011 medalists are: * in Creative Expression - Martin Thompson of New London-Spicer, runner-up, Zach Brown of Fairmont, sixth and Dominic Brandsted of Parkers Prairie, eighth; * in Discussion - Wesley Otto of Mankato Loyola, third and Jessica Petersen of Murray County Central of Slayton, seventh; * in Duo Interpretation - Michelle Farlee of Park Rapids Area, runner-up, Mac Tiegs of Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, seventh in Creative Expression and Kenzie Kovar of Perham, eighth in Humorous Interpretation; * in Extemporaneous Reading - Carissa Lewis of Jordan, sixth and Michelle Sanders of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, eighth; * in Extemporaneous Speaking - Dan Obermiller of St. Peter, fourth, Brendan Stermer of Montevideo, fourth in Original Oratory, Thomas Huling of Annandale, sixth and Eric Noll of Fairmont, seventh; * in Great Speeches - Karlee Omberg of Perham, runner-up, Sydne Springman of Adrian, third and Caitlyn Strack of Cannon Falls, seventh; * in Informative Speaking - Mallory Alto of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, third, Rachel Newville of Perham, sixth and Amelia Brooks of Lake City, eighth; * in Original Oratory - Maile Olson of Blackduck, fifth and Erika Pritchett of East Grand Forks, fifth in Informative Speaking; * in Serious Interpretation of Drama - Mariah Dormanen of Walker- Hackensack-Akeley, fourth, Hena Vadher of Mounds Park Academy of St. Paul, seventh in Serious Interpretation of Prose and Rachel McCloud of Paynesville Area, eighth; * in Serious Interpretation of Poetry - Stephanie Wolf of Mankato Loyola, runner-up, Mijah Murden of Windom Area, fourth and Samantha Felt of Redwood Valley of Redwood Falls, sixth; * in Serious Interpretation of Prose - Gabrielle Scott of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, eighth; * in Storytelling - Michael Wegmann of Cannon Falls, fourth and Ian Lah of Ely, sixth. Cannon Falls and Mounds Park Academy lead the Class A field by qualifying 15 competitors apiece. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley is next with 13 individuals.

Class AA Highlights

The Class AA field features 35 medalists from the 2011 field. Of the five previous champions, three will compete in the same category and two will look for gold in a different category.

Allen Chen of St. Cloud Tech is looking for his second consecutive title in Creative Expression, Tom Dyke of Eagan is looking to repeat in Original Oratory and Ben Habegger of Eastview of Apple Valley is in search of his second gold medal in Storytelling. Lataya Williams of Roseville Area and David Stevens of Eagan are looking for gold in new categories. Williams won in Serious Interpretation of Prose last year and will compete in Duo Interpretation this year. She will partner with Rachel Evans, who placed third in Serious Interpretation of Drama. Stevens, who won in Duo Interpretation with Tyler Larkin in 2011, will compete in Humorous Interpretation.

One 2010 champion also returns in search of more gold. Eric Deutz of Marshall, who won in Creative Expression, will compete in that same category this year.

The other returning 2011 medalists are: * in Creative Expression - Mike Ross of Eastview, runner-up; * in Discussion - Sam Mayer of Eastview, sixth; * in Duo Interpretation - Raffy Maristela of Eden Prairie, fifth in Original Oratory, Nathan Olson of Duluth East, seventh and Katie Makowski of Lakeville North, seventh in Serious Interpretation of Drama; * in Extemporaneous Reading - Kelly Metzger of Apple Valley, third, Brinda Shah of Eden Prairie, fourth, Aarushi Sarkari of Prior Lake, seventh, Zoe Bohnen of St. Cloud Tech, eighth and Maija Lindaas of Moorhead, eighth in Original Oratory; * in Extemporaneous Speaking - Ashesh Rambachan of Eastview, runner-up and Alex Gray of St. Francis, sixth; * in Great Speeches - Mitch Bermel of Lakeville North, fifth; * in Humorous Interpretation - Jacob Guzior of Eagan, fifth in Creative Expression, Lindsay Lundeen of Eden Prairie, sixth in Original Oratory and Ali Souza of Chanhassen, eighth in Duo Interpretation; * in Informative Speaking - Georgia Schmitt of Apple Valley, third and Yaphet Getachew of Lakeville North, fourth; * in Original Oratory - Nader Helmy of Apple Valley, runner-up and Aunika Schraw of St. Cloud Tech, seventh; * in Serious Interpretation of Drama - Karina Devine of Eastview, runner-up, Sam Wisenden of Moorhead, third in Duo Interpretation, Evan Covert of Roseville Area, fourth in Duo Interpretation and Briar Smith of Lakeville North, sixth in Informative Speaking; * in Serious Interpretation of Poetry - Yemi Ajagbe of Woodbury, fourth, Sarah Rice of Moorhead, sixth and Hallal Tamene of Irondale of New Brighton, eighth; * in Serious Interpretation of Prose - Maria Null of St. Cloud Tech, seventh.

Moorhead and Lakeville North qualified 23 individuals apiece and Centennial of Circle Pines followed with 18 qualifiers.


Friday's schedule begins with the first round at 3:45 p.m. The second and third rounds will begin at 5:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., followed by the finals at 8:30 p.m. Awards will begin at 10:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the first round will begin at 10:15 a.m. and the second and third rounds will follow at 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. The finals will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the award ceremony will start at 5:30 p.m.