Speech Team Advances Three Students to State
A great season for Pine City Speech just got better.
One week after eighteen Pine City High School students qualified for the Section Contest, three more have extended their season by punching their ticket to the State Speech Meet at Gustavus Adolphus College. Juniors Trevor Clune and Josh Palmer will represent Pine City in the Duo Interpretation category after placing third with their selection, “The Battle of Brown and Whitmore.” Junior Aaron Nisley also advances by placing second in Serious Prose with a cutting from the classic novel
Clune and Palmer started the day off hot and never let up: they scored a perfect 100 in their first preliminary round, and followed it up by two more strong rounds, comfortably landing them in the final round of eight. The final round is critiqued by a panel of three adjudicators, which ranked the Pine City duo 6th, 3rd, and 2nd, respectively. This meld of 11 was good enough for third place and a berth at state, edging a duo from Dassel-Cokato by only a few hundredths of a point. The win was especially huge for Clune and Palmer, who narrowly missed state a year ago by placing fourth. Reflecting upon the meet, Clune stated, “the payoff for hard work is really impressive.” The boys started the season earlier and worked harder, to great results. Says Palmer, “the competition was really tough and it was a fun experience to see so many outstanding new acts.”
Amazingly, Clune and Palmer were not the only duo from Pine City in the final round. Seniors Shauna Cronk and Leah Schminkey finished off their season in great form, by placing sixth. Their day was highlighted by receiving a near-perfect score of 99 in their third preliminary round. Their selection, “Joyful Noise,” is a poem for two voices by acclaimed
children’s author Sid Fleishmann.
In Prose, Aaron Nisley scored 98, 100, and 96 in his first three rounds, respectively, and awed the final round judges with score of 98, 96, and a perfect 100 in the final round. Up against the most intense competition of the season, Nisley brought his “A” game, and finished in 2nd place.
A total of eight students qualified for the final rounds, a remarkable achievement by anybody’s standards. Renee Schminkey, competed in the Creative Expression category with an original speech entitled “Hello There.” Schminkey had her best meet of the season, scoring 98, 98, 97 in her three rounds and placing 8th in finals. Only a 10th grader, she will certainly be a formidable presence the next two seasons.
Senior Bri Engh, competing in Serious Drama, also received raves in her first three rounds and finished with eighth. Remarkably, Engh was competing in her first complete season of speech. Her piece was a challenging monologue entitled “Mississippi Mirror” by Alan Haehnel. “I was so proud to make it as far as I did with such great competition,” said
In Informative Speaking, sophomore Laurel Anderson found great success for the second straight season. With a clever and inventive presentation on the topic of dreams, Anderson (who was Conference Champion one year ago), launched herself into the final round with scores of 98, 97, and 94, and finished in 7th place. Anderson was quick to credit the team for staying
focused on Saturday: “Since the meet was on the same day as prom, a lot of team members were really stressed and worried about being late to prom, but they put their performances first, and it paid off.”
Also participating were Andrew Cox and Christine Kraft (Humorous), Lauren Funkhauser (Drama), Sandra Wawersich and Jazz Dyksmann (Duo), Beth Maki and Jackie Martini (Extemporaneous Speaking), Allison Skluzacek (Great Speeches), Anthony Olson (Original Oratory), and Ashlee Martini (Storytelling).
Olson, only an eighth grader, values the friendships he has made with the other students, who have mentored him throughout the year. Olson competed this year with an original piece about teen suicide, saying speech is not just about winning medals and trophies: “Speech is a great way to voice your mind and make a difference in the lives of people around you.”
The team is coached by Beth Steinleitner and assisted by Amanda Thompson. Following Saturday’s meet, Steinleitner was overcome with emotion, saying, “I’m so happy of these students and all they have accomplished is such a short amount of time. Pine City has a lot to be proud of.” Steinleitner, in only her second year as coach, has doubled the size of the team and
brought home more awards for the squad in recent memory. Not since the mid-90s has Pine City Speech found such success.
NOTES: The Section meet, held in Kimball, brought together students from 26 schools. As a team Pine City placed seventh. Perennial powerhouse Milaca took the team title by scoring 39 points. Second place went to Dassel-Cokato and St. Cloud Cathedral placed third. Other area schools: Braham tied for 21st and Rush City tied for 25th.