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WHS speech team advances to state

Brian Korthals /Daily Globe WHS speech members advancing to the state tournament are (front, from left) Jack Martin, Kayli Kuhl, (back, from left) Daniel Anderson, Jeremy Clark, Sean Benz and Caleb Dirksen. The team will compete Friday at Chanhassen High School.

WORTHINGTON -- The day starts bright and early as Worthington High School speech team members load the school bus to travel to the next tournament.

Dressed for success from pressed suits to polished shoes, students make their way through multiple rounds of competition in an effort to hone their public speaking skills.

The season is long and the hours are many, with the end goal of making it to the Minnesota State High School League's speech tournament.

And this year WHS will boast a six-member team in the Class A tournament.

Jeremy Clark, a senior at WHS, will advance to the state tournament for the second consecutive year. Clark, who competes in the category of extemporaneous speaking, placed fifth at the state tournament last year and is hoping to have an even better showing this time around.

"I'm happy to be a back to state to give it another shot," he said. "This season has been interesting and a test of my dedication and good coaching."

While he has enjoyed the competitive factor, Clark noted the greatest benefit gained from his participation in speech has been mastering public speaking skills, skills he believes will be utilized long after the competition is over.

"Ultimately, I think it's going to give me a great background to be successful in business and politics in the future."

Teammate Kayli Kuhl portrays a young autistic girl learning to cope with daily challenges in Lee Hall's "Spoonface Steinberg."

Although Kuhl is a junior at WHS, this was in essence her senior year on the speech team, as she will complete her last year of high school in Crailsheim, Germany, next year.

"State makes everything worth it," Kuhl noted of the upcoming competition. "It's a great way to close up the season, knowing that you've worked so hard and you're going all the way."

Daniel Anderson -- a senior at WHS --chose to take on a more humorous role competing in the category of Creative Expression with his rendition of "The Odyssey."

"Being able to perform to an audience and seeing them react and enjoy the piece is fun," Anderson said.

Advancing to the state tournament is not new to Sean Benz, a senior at WHS. Benz, who competes in the category of Extemporaneous Reading, has advanced to state in previous years, although this will be the first year he will compete as a member of the WHS team.

Also advancing to state is Jack Martin, a junior at WHS, who will compete in the Storytelling category. Sophomore Caleb Dirksen, will compete in Humorous Expression.

"I am proud of my entire team. They've worked hard this year," said WHS speech coach Linda Neugebauer about her 30-member team. "They are a hard-working, dedicated and incredibly talented team. The speech season is the cake, and this (advancing to state) is the icing."

The speech team, coached by Neugebauer and Mary Hill, will advance to the Minnesota State High School League Speech tournament this Friday at Chanhassen High School.