WHS students head to state speech Friday

WORTHINGTON -- After a season facing some of the toughest competition in the state, 10 students from the Worthington High School Trojan Speech Team will compete at the state level contest Friday in the Twin Cities.

WORTHINGTON -- After a season facing some of the toughest competition in the state, 10 students from the Worthington High School Trojan Speech Team will compete at the state level contest Friday in the Twin Cities.

"America's No. 1 fear is my varsity sport," said senior Kristi Kuhl, who participated in the drama division.

This year, 29 students participated in WHS speech, accruing points for their team even if they didn't win ribbons in every event. Their hard work paid off when the Trojans placed first in the Sub-section 10 speech contest in Fulda April 3.

At the section competition in Marshall Saturday, 12 students qualified to compete at state, though two will be unable to attend.

All of the 10 students who will compete have an excellent chance of doing well, said their coach, Linda Neugebauer.


"They have an excellent opportunity to excel," Neugebauer said. "Once they get at that level, everyone is good. I think we'll have an awesome day."

Neugebauer and several of her top students agreed that competition in southwest Minnesota was especially tough this year, with many teams in the area setting the bar high and keeping it there.

"I was impressed by the level of competition," said Erin Schutte, a WHS senior.

Schutte and fellow senior Alex Ling will head to state to compete in extemporaneous speaking. In that category, participants draw three questions about international issues from an envelope, choose one and then have 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech on the topic.

"I would consider it one of the most difficult categories," Schutte said.

At sections, she spoke about North Korea's nuclear program and a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, among other topics. Ling talked about U.S.-Russian relations and the Sudan.

"I just enjoy international politics and the challenge of making up a speech and giving it on the spot," Ling said.

Seniors Lexy Steinle and John Shepherd must also work their magic off-the-cuff at state Friday, but they are extemporaneous readers rather than speakers. Each student in the category receives a book of 20 short stories at the beginning of the year, and at competitions, draws three cuttings of one of those stories from an envelope.


Then, the student must prepare an introductory speech for the cutting and read the cutting.

Extemporaneous readers are docked points if they memorize their work, which is unusual for speech competitions. If they transpose two words, a special judge reading the text along with them will also dock points.

One of this year's stories involved a bleating goat, prompting Steinle to accurately reproduce the sound of a goat.

"Everyone comes up to me and makes goat noises at me now," Steinle said with a grin.

One of the only boys in the category at sections, Shepherd ironically ended up drawing from cuttings of "Too Soon a Woman," but did so well he, too, qualified for the next level of competition.

"You have to have a certain skill set for (extemporaneous reading)," Shepherd said.

Senior Benjamin Kroll will compete in the discussion category, a competition similar to a debate but with more of a collaborative feel. In discussion, a group is assigned an identity, such as a government commission, a citizen's group or business, and then receives a problem to solve.

The problem is a sub-topic of a much larger topic students receive at the beginning of the speech season, so participants have a good base of knowledge of the topic already. They are judged not just on what they say, but on how they assist the group as a whole.


"There's this odd balance between fighting to say what you want to and making sure there's an even flow (of discussion," Kroll explained.

Kuhl opted to perform "A Piece of My Heart," by Shirley Lauro, which describes the horrific experiences of a nurse in Vietnam. The piece required her to cry on demand -- which she did in most competitions.

Kuhl has participated in speech since she was a freshman, and is currently a team co-captain. She originally joined in order to have something to do outside the house on Saturdays, but quickly realized how intense and competitive speech is.

"Speech is all-around -- writing, comprehension, speaking, social interaction," said Neugebauer. "It's an activity that really tests all these areas."

Students who qualified for state are Sameera Nalla, Jessica Weitgenant, Heather Johnson, Mariah Teerink, Andrew Hoffman, Maggie Fornoff, Kroll, Shepherd, Schutte, Steinle, Kuhl and Ling.

Other speech participants were: Yannick Elens, Kyle Fleming, Sarah Korthals, Mirjam Ritter, Bridget Wass, David Bardan, Ana Li, Rachel Verde, Wesley Berger, Katie Fleming, Maggie Fornoff, Mindy Kuhl, Yunuen Velazquez, Annie Zaske, Jeremy Clark, Ashly Kingery, Erin Pomeranke and Isaac Wass.

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