Weather Forecast


WHS sending large group to state speech

WORTHINGTON -- Speech team members are so lucky.

Whereas basketball players can only choose to be a guard, forward or center, speech competitors can choose to perform from among 13 categories.

So many categories allow participants' personalities to blossom -- whether they tend to be serious, funny, thoughtful or strange. Perhaps that is why Jessica Loosbrock, a repeat Worthington High School entrant in the state speech competition, enjoys her favorite category, creative expression.

"It's a lot of fun, especially for my category," she said while contemplating her appearance in the 2006 state meet next week. "You get to be entertained and entertain. It's a lot of fun to make people laugh, and that's what I do."

The 2006 Class AA state competition will be April 21 at Bloomington Jefferson High School, and Worthington High School has qualified a record 12 individuals and seven alternates to the event. No other Section 2AA team will have as many representatives as Worthington at the state competition.

Among the 12 are seven seniors, one junior and four sophomores. They include Loosbrock, Karri Wolf, Brian Juber, John Weitgenant, Melissa Clark, Kim Hibma, Christina Nakhonesy, Chandara Rattanasithi, Erin Schutte, Dan Wilson, Tim Kroll and Chad Vaske. Alternates are Anna Wilson, Lexy Steinle, Santhi Nalla, Jessica Weitgenant, Angela Lowe, Brittany Workman and Kristi Kuhl.

Head speech coach Linda Neugebauer and assistant Amber Carstensen are justifiably proud of their team's success. And that success may continue for a while longer. There are 46 WHS speech team members this year, one of the largest groups ever. And 17 of the participants are sophomores.

Neugebauer credits the students, and former coach Ellen Copperud (who stepped down a couple years ago), for the Trojans' 2006 achievements.

"When you set a standard for excellence, which Ellen Copperud has done, kids respond to excellence. They want to be the best. ... They are continually raising the bar for themselves. Out of this group, I don't think I've ever had to yell at them -- unless they forget their shoes," Neugebauer said.

"They're willing to listen to their coaches' ideas," Carstensen added.

"When they see up close and personal the success of their teammates," Neugebauer said, "they want to experience that success. They truly like to work. They come up with ideas."

Loosbrock, Anna Wilson, Jessica and John Weitgenant, Vaske and Wolf have all qualified previously for state. When asked what the secret of the team's success might be, Vaske answered succinctly -- like an outstanding speech team member should.

"Hard work, dedication and effort," he said.

Dan Wilson said he thinks speech is special because he's "able to perform for others." Schutte likes the individual and team success that comes through dedicated effort.

"It's an individual competition. It's about personal bests and team effort," she said.

Wolf said the personal sacrifices are worth the sacrifices.

"It hasn't been easy getting up at four in the morning and getting on the bus," Wolf submitted. "It just proves that we're dedicated, and it's for the love of the competition."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

(507) 376-7328