Duo teammates and best friends Natalie Bot, left, and Tara Thooft, congratulate one another after finishing second and earning their second state trip. Viking speakers advancing to state include (left to right): Zoe DeBoer, Brenden Kimpe, Sean Dilley, Jacob Haen, Tara Thooft and Natalie Bot.

Minneota makes speech state-ment

•Vikings to send 6 individuals to state

The Minneota Speech team made a strong state-ment on Saturday. At the Section 3A Speech Tournament at Southwest Minnesota State University, Minneota advanced six competitors in five events to the State Speech Meet on Friday, April 12 at Wayzata High School.

Brenden Kimpe extended his string of first-place finishes to five straight; none bigger than the Section 3A Extemporaneous Speaking blue ribbon that vaulted him into the state tournament for the third time.

The top three in each of the section events advance to the state tournament. There were 12 competitors in each event. After three rounds, six finalists were selected by judges to compete for an additional round.

Natalie Bot and Tara Thooft earned their second berth in the state tournament with a runner-up finish in Duo, while Sean Dilley also returns to state for the third time following his second-place section finish in Informative.

Jacob Haen in Humorous and Zoe DeBoer in Storytelling were each third and also will be heading to the state competition. This is Haen’s second state trip, and DeBoer’s first.

“As I’ve said before, speech is very different to coach,” said Coach Kim Gades. “Our kids’ emotions are all over the place, ranging from content to disappointed and devastated to ecstatic.”

“The only thing we can do is encourage and comfort them because this activity is so subjective.” Alyssa Engels narrowly missed earning a trip to state, finishing fourth in Original Oratory. Also placing were Emma Lipinski, sixth in Great Speeches, and Trevor Belaen, sixth in Discussion.

Other section qualifiers from Minneota were: Ben Engels, a sophomore, in Creative Expression; Cecilia Rabaey, a junior, in Creative Expression; Joe Voit, a seventh-grader, in Extemp Speaking; Morgen Wersal, a freshman, in Poetry; and Rachel Engels, a senior, in Informative.

Following the conclusion of the section meet, Gades, who was one of the coaches that handed out ribbons to the six finalists, found herself overcome with emotion.

“I’m so happy for those going to state,” she said, “but I feel so bad for those that didn’t make it because they all work so hard.”

Minneota has seen its speech team improve each and every week under Gades and assistant coach Amanda Engels.

The Vikings had eight finalists from among 13 entries that had advanced through last week's sub-section meet in Pipestone. Kimpe, a junior, has become a stalwart in Extemp Speaking this season.

He gave a nearly flawless performance in his final round. In this category, participants draw three questions, pick the one they feel strongest about, and then have 30 minutes to prepare a speech.

Kimpe’s topic question was, “Are Republicans in Congress going to pay a political price for standing with or opposing President Trump on critical issues?”

When asked about his recent streak of winning performances, Kimpe listed confidence as the key. “I would say it has a lot to with confidence,” he said.

“I've been working hard on remembering dates and numbers and things like that, and that really helps the confidence.”

Even though competitors are allowed to use some notes in their speech, Kimpe elected not to.

He gave a smooth three-point response to his question as though he had prepared for months.

Bot and Thooft, both juniors, have had to step out of the box for their Duo performance this season titled, “What the Voice Wants Me to Do” by Bradley Walton.

This intense performance tests their ability to become someone they are not and borders on eerie; yet they gave a sterling performance at sectionals.

“We get critiques from the judges at each event,” Bot said.

“And we really try to us those to work on some of those critiques to get better.”

Dilley has been in speech since sixth grade and has been in the Informative category since seventh grade.

His topic is about genetic genealogy and testing; noting the pros and cons of getting this test done.

He also informs his audience how genetic testing is used to catch criminals and to determine certain illnesses.

In the Storytelling category, there are 15 story titles and participants draw three and then choose the one they feel the most confident about.

“Of the three I drew, I chose Golden Blackbird,” DeBoer said.

“I was thankful I drew one of my favorites.”

“The Golden Blackbird” is about a boy who goes on a trip through France to search for a cure for his father.

“The cure is the golden blackbird,” DeBoer explained. “He is guided by a rabbit though the journey and he overcomes the obstacles thrown at him to cure his father in the end.”

DeBoer said getting to state this year was definitely her goal. ‘I was very excited when I heard my name called,” she admitted. “And my coaches, who were storytellers themselves, get to coach me at state.”

Haen’s Humorous title is, “One Giant Leap” by Paxton Norwood Attridge. “It is actually a one-act play that we cut down to 10 minutes,” Gades said.

This edited version of “One Giant Leap” follows third-graders in a classroom going through mishaps and triumphs of putting on a class play that centers on the moon landing.

These six individuals all seemed to shoot for the moon on Saturday, and ended up being among the stars.

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