Adrian student wins state speech championship
ADRIAN -- "I think that is the single best performance I have given in four years of speech," said Adrian High School Senior Nick Lorang after giving the performance that won him the Minnesota state championship in Great Speeches.
While Lorang has been in speech since his freshman year, he said this was his most successful year by far, especially since this is also the first time he won a trip to the state tournament.
After three years of ending each speech season disappointed and falling short of the state competition, Lorang described the state tournament as "really a rush."
"People have asked me if I was excited or emotional, but I describe it as being wired -- like nervous but in a good way," he said.
He explained that the state speech competition starts with preliminary rounds, the winners of which go on to the final round.
"After the three preliminary rounds, I was feeling good, but I didn't know what to expect because the variety (of competitors) at state is different than it is in our area," he said.
Lorang said when the finals were posted, he was excited to find his name on the list of those going on to the last round.
"I was actually posted to speak last, which I thought was a good thing, that way I'd be the last thing the judge remembers," he said.
Even though after the final round he felt very confident of the performance he had given, Lorang said defeating the other 24 competitors in his category at state and receiving the championship award was "unreal."
"It was a surprise when they actually put that in my hands," he said with a laugh.
This was Lorang's first year competing in Great Speeches, a category in which students present and analyze a speech from history.
Lorang chose a speech given by President Bill Clinton in 1993 in the same church where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last speech. Often titled "The Freedom to Die," the speech advocates for increased gun control because of what was going on at the time.
"(The speech) transforms the victims of gun violence into a symbol for our nation's unity and values. As it is symbolically transforming into a good thing from a bad thing, it gives morality to what the president is proposing," Lorang said.
Throughout the speech, Clinton pushes for stricter gun control and presents it in such a way that it is perceived as a moral decision rather than a political one.
Speech coach Jason Olson said part of choosing a good speech to compete in Great Speeches is selecting one that also has a current connection or relevance to today.
"We looked at this (speech) right around the time of the Sandy Hook shooting, and obviously really has a current connection," he said.
"Part of the time, I'm performing it as Clinton gave it, and part of the time, I'm doing analysis. We do a rhetorical model to analyze the speech and break it down and say why it was great and why it was effective," Lorang explained.
While Adrian has had one other state speech champion, "It's not a very common thing for any school," Olson said.
He praised the work that Lorang put into preparing his speech and attributed Lorang's success to his dedication and determination.
"Nick is very driven. He's very much a perfectionist. The nice thing is that he does a lot of things independently. Because of that, he makes it easy to cleanup (the speech) and make it stronger, because he's doing so much on his own.
"It's very obvious that Nick had a fabulous season and he was very deserving. Like any sport, it's a tremendous accomplishment when you are state champion. No one should underestimate the amount of work he had to put in, because it really is a testament to how hard he was willing to work to win," Olson said.
Lorang said he plans to attend South Dakota State University next year to study pre-medicine, and even though he doesn't anticipate using the skills he learned in speech competitively anymore, he knows they will help him in whatever he does.
"The skills that I've developed and learned, I'll be able to carry with me my entire life, and that is the value of the speech program," he said.
Daily Globe reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.