Speaking out loud

18 area schools competed at Marshall speech meet on Saturday

Big facial expressions and gestures helped Marshall High School students get warmed up and ready to perform at their home speech tournament Saturday morning. Schools from around southwest Minnesota competed in the Marshall Speech Mini-Spectactular.

MARSHALL — The scene around the hallways at Marshall High School on Saturday morning looked both formal and silly at the same time. Groups of students dressed in suits and ties were repeating tongue twisters while using lots of hand gestures and exaggerated expressions.

It was all a warm-up for public speaking, at the Marshall Speech Mini-Spectacular.

A total of 18 high schools competed at MHS on Saturday. Area high school students said competing in speech could sometimes be stressful, but the experience was worth it.

“Speech is very much a community,” said Kiera Lafferty, a Springfield student competing with the River Valley speech team. “And it allows kids to be confident in themselves.”

MHS student Connor Martinson said it was fun to meet different groups of people through speech.

“It’s a great way to build connections with different schools,” said Russell-Tyler-Ruthton student Hailey Wigton. Wigton said it was also good to get the experience of being at a bigger speech tournament.

Students in area schools had a strong showing at the Mini-Spectacular, with students from Marshall, RTR, Murray County Central and Minneota all bringing home trophies in different speaking events. The RTR, MCC and River Valley speech teams also won trophies in the overall team sweepstakes.

Speakers at the tournament were taking on a variety of challenges. For some RTR students, competing at the Marshall speech tournament on Saturday meant a quick change of gears from performing one-act plays in Tyler over the weekend.

“It’s fun, because I really like doing speech and theater,” said RTR student Andrew Harper. But, he said, “It takes a lot of energy.”

Andrew ended up advancing to the competition finals in both storytelling and in duo interpretation, where he teamed up with his sister Alyssa.

Some Marshall students took on an extra challenge at their home tournament. Alex Buss and Eli Boelter said they competed in the extemporaneous speaking category for the first time on Saturday. In extemporaneous speaking, students have 30 minutes to prepare a speech answering a question about current events.

“It felt a little bit hectic,” Buss said, but he and Boelter both ended up doing well.

“If I want to continue, I’d better study up on the Middle East and Africa,” Boelter said.

For some MHS students, competing at the Mini-Spectacular and helping with the awards ceremony was bittersweet. Sophia Gaul and Connor Martinson said it was their last home speech tournament, because they were both seniors this year.

“Being on the stage, instead of watching the seniors on stage handing out trophies – it feels sort of like I’m near the end of my high school experience,” Martinson said.

At the same time, Gaul said, “It’s good to carry on the tradition.”

Marshall Speech Mini-Spectacular results

Team sweepstakes awards:

First: RTR

Second: Murray County Central –

Third: River Valley Speech Team – 3rd place

Creative Expression:

First: Mary Lanoue

Second: Joe Dagel, RTR

Third: Gabi Symens, Windom Area High School


First: Wyatt Pohlen, Minneota

Second: Bri Runchey Smalley, Marshall

Third: Thomas Huso, Murray County Central

Dramatic Interpretation:

First: Lydia Weverka, Marshall

Second: Harriet Lohse, Windom Area High School

Third: Addison Bedow, RTR

Duo Interpretation:

First: Mary Lanoue and Naomi Schroeder, Marshall

Second: Alyssa Harper and Andrew Harper, RTR

Third: Carter Gehrke and Lydia Weverka, Marshall

Extemporaneous Reading:

First: Sophia Gaul, Marshall

Second: Lily Kallevig, River Valley

Third: Sydney Larson, Marshall

Extemporaneous Speaking:

First: Adalia Matzner, RTR

Second: Joe Voit, Minneota

Third: Augie Sturrock, Marshall

Great Speeches:

First: Hser Htoo, Marshall

Second: Audrey Schreurs, RTR

Third: Augie Sturrock, Marshall

Humorous Interpretation:

First: Mary Lanoue, Marshall

Second: Connor Martinson, Marshall

Third: Jesus Rojas, Adrian


First: Jessika Tunnissen, Luverne

Second: AJ Runchey Smalley, Marshall

Third: Kayden Cavaness, Community Christian School

Original Oratory:

First: Jack Gunn, Marshall

Second: Alondra Leon Flores, Worthington

Third: Roselynn Hartshorn, Luverne

Poetry Reading:

First: Jesus Rojas, Adrian

Second: Abigail Jensen, River Valley

Third: Gabi Symens, Windom Area High School

Prose Reading:

First: November Paw, Marshall

Second: AJ Runchey Smalley

Third: Kiera Lafferty, River Valley


First: Brealyn Damm, Murray County Central

Second: Andrew Harper, RTR

Third: Melanie Engels, Minneota


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