Facing ‘crazy’ competition at Spectacular

Students from area high schools get experience, make connections

Photo by Cindy Votruba Amina Ali, a Marshall High School sophomore, goes through her prose piece during the 17th annual Marshall Speech Spectacular.

MARSHALL — Tracy Area High School speech team members Noah Tiegs and Angelique Woodrich are used to competing in smaller, single-A tournaments.

But when they decided to take part in the 17th annual Marshall Speech Spectacular, which drew more than 900 competitors from 30 schools, they were impressed by what they saw.

“It’s crazy just how good everyone is,” Tiegs said. Tiegs, a senior at TAHS and speech veteran, said this was his first time at the Spectacular. He was competing in varsity poetry, and his collection of poems was about masculinity and societal’s view on what it should be.

Tiegs said it’s fun to compete against the bigger schools but nerve-wracking too.

Woodrich, a freshman, is in her third year of speech. She also said the competition was a little “nerve-wracking.” She was competing in both drama and humorous.

“I’m still on my scripts, everyone is off of them,” she said. “They’re so good. But I like the nerve-wracking part. It helps me with my speech. It feels like you accomplished something, and it feels real good.”

Woodrich said her drama piece is about a woman who’s had a terrible life and an emotionally abusive husband. Her humorous selection is a twist on the book of Genesis and how Adam is created.

TAHS speech coach Alicia Webb said she had brought most of the speech team to the competition on Friday to observe. The TAHS speech team has about 30 members, and most are new, she said.

Webb said Tiegs and Woodrich are very driven and have been working hard since the beginning of the season.

“I’m glad we got to compete at it,” Tiegs said. He ended up placing fifth in his category.

“It’s great experience for us to learn, and it’s so exciting,” Woodrich said.

A few of Marshall’s novice speakers were also gaining experience at the Spectacular. Jamila Vue is taking part in novice prose, Indie Finlo is competing in novice drama, Ignacio Larios is in novice humorous and Savannah Boedigheimer is in novice creative interpretation.

“It’s great, it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s a lot of fun,” Finlo said.

“It’s overwhelming, but I met a lot of new people,” Vue said.

Larios said it’s fun to know what’s going on since it’s Marshall’s home tournament. Vue noted the size of the competition and going up against other schools.

“We compete agains a lot of the same schools, so it’s fun to make connections,” she said.

The novice speakers said they joined speech for different reasons.

“I like to talk a lot,” Finlo said.

“I needed help at public speaking,” Vue said.

Larios said he likes to make people laugh.

“One of my friends said you should join (speech),” he said.

Boedigheimer said she loves writing.

“Not only do you get to do fun stuff you love,” she said, “you can also be creative.” Her creative expression piece is about squirrel terrorists. She was inspired by the squirrel that had knocked out the power in downtown Marshall last year.

Vue said watching other competitors in prose has helped her. Finlo said some of the drama pieces she’s heard have been quite emotional. Her drama in particular is about a teen girl getting an abortion.

“She’s really loopy,” Finlo said about her drama’s character. She said the piece is sad, and the girl talks about everything from Michael Jackson to goldfish.

Larios said his humor piece is about “a guy who gets dissed all the time.” The guy then finds a Yu-Gi-Oh! card with Lucifer on it and makes a girl fall in love with him.

MHS speech alumni Michael Gutman came back to the tournament as a judge. He said it’s very different being on the other side of things, that you experience things “you’ve always wondered about as a competitor.”

He gives the speech judges more credit, he said, now that he’s one.

He said he looks for certain things as a judge.

“Eye contact is one of the biggest things, easy to point out, facial expression, enthusiasm,” he said.

During the weekend, Gutman said he’s been seeing judges he’s gone in front of as a competitor and friends from other schools.