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Talk about success: Trojan speech team achieves at meets

The WHS Trojan Speech Team had a strong showing at the Mankato East Speech Tournament last Saturday. Standing with some of their hardware from the competition are team members: (front row, from left), Brigitte Hegarty, Kristi Souksavath, Bianca Alvarez, Karina Cuate, Andrea Magana, Ari Lopez, Christopher Mayorga, Adyiam Kimbrough; (back row, from left): Alisha Cooper, Juston Bents, Brandon Stuntebeck, Ivan Parga, D.J. Lambert, Elyzabeth Coriolan, Kenneth Garcia, Brianna Kempema. Submitted Photo

WORTHINGTON — A first-place finish in the small school division capped the Worthington High School (WHS) Trojan Speech Team’s appearance last Saturday at the Mankato East Fiesta Speech Tournament.

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It was the team’s third competition of the 2014 season.

“The kids have really worked hard, and we have a wonderful team,” said Linda Neugebauer, who shares coaching duties with Anna Korver. “Everyone is improving each time out, which is what we want to see.”

The roughly 20 WHS students involved this year include some returning veterans but also several newcomers, as 14 participating seniors graduated last spring.

“Our team is very young,” said Korver. “We don’t have a lot of ‘speech veterans,’ and many of our students are still learning the ins and outs of competition and practice.

“They are making great progress, and we’re excited to watch them grow as the season advances.”

Speech students compete in one — or more — of several different categories, including Great Speeches, Extemporaneous Reading, Humorous Interpretation, Original Oratory and Dramatic Interpretation, to name only a few.

“I’ve competed in all three meets so far,” said sophomore Juston Bents, a first-year speech competitor. “Some of my friends who were already in speech encouraged me to try it.

“I like that speech is a competition, but not an athletic one. It’s about competing with your speaking abilities.”

Bents wrote an original speech about “Colony Collapse Disorder,” and at Saturday’s tournament in Mankato, he placed second in the Novice Original Oratory category.

Junior Brianna Kempema, meanwhile, is in her third year on the team, having enjoyed the Extemporaneous Reading category throughout each season.

“Being in speech gives me more confidence when I have to do speeches for classes,” Kempema shared.

“And speech is a different experience from other activities. I’d say it requires more thinking and less physical challenges.”

Team captains this year are seniors Brandon Stuntebeck and Ari Lopez.

On Feb. 1, the WHS team played host to several area teams at its Trojan Speech Tournament, attended by over 250 students.

“We have eight meets during the season — basically every Saturday except March 29 — and the section meet is April 5 at Mankato West,” noted Neugebauer.

Kempema likely speaks for other speech participants with this sentiment: “I just hope to improve personally and become a better speaker this year,” she said.

In Korver’s estimation, that may well occur.

“We have some tough competitions ahead of us, but we are looking forward to seeing the growth our students will make each week,” Korver said.

And Neugebauer adds that it isn’t too late for speech hopefuls to climb on board, even at this point.

“We can add kids as the season progresses,” she offered.

The Trojans’ next appearance is Saturday at Martin County West.

Besides the Trojans’ first-place team finish in the small school division at the Mankato East Fiesta Speech Tournament last weekend, individual results from that meet are as follows:

Karina Cuate, fifth in Varsity Extemporaneous Reading; Ari Lopez, first in Varsity Great Speeches; Brandon Stuntebeck, seventh in Varsity Humorous Interpretation; Ivan Parga, fifth in Varsity Humorous Interpretation; Christopher Mayorga, sixth in Varsity Original Oratory; Andrea Magana, second in Varsity Original Oratory; Ari Lopez, seventh in Varsity Serious Prose; Bianca Alvarez, fourth in Varsity Storytelling; Adyiam Kimbrough, first in Novice Dramatic Interpretation; D.J. Lambert, fifth in Novice Extemporaneous Speaking; and Juston Bents, second in Novice Original Oratory.


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