MARSHALL - Abby Surprenant made the trip to the state speech tournament as a nervous freshman two years ago and returned this year as a seasoned speaker.
That experience from 2010 obviously served her well, as the Marshall High School junior took home a second-place medal at Saturday's tournament.
"It was exciting to be back," she said. "It helped having that experience from my freshman year. My freshman year was very scary and intimidating. This year, I just tried to remember that while everyone's so good there, I qualified and I knew I belonged."
From left to right: Marshall High School speech coach Rick Purrington Rick Purrington, Abby Surprenant, Bo Erickson, Luke Schroeder, Billie Miller, and Aletta Arndt. These are the five students who qualified for state from MHS who advanced into the final eight and earned state medals.
Surprenant said she and the other 12 state qualifiers worked hard during the time between sections and state, honing their speeches.
"We kind of had the motto for sections of no regrets as far as preparation goes," she said. "I think all of us were at our best because of all the extra work we put in before."
Surprenant competed in Original Oratory. Her persuasive speech was about how our society overvalues extroverted personalities.
"Abby's second-place finish was very exciting and very well deserved," MHS speech coach Rick Purrington said. "Abby is very smart and very poised. Judges have always been impressed with her strong research and her really thoughtful analysis. But it was her improved delivery that really began to set her apart these past couple of weeks. She has really learned a lot from her success but also her disappointments."
Bo Erickson finished fifth in Drama. Purrington said Erickson embraced the acting aspect of his category.
"Bo's an incredibly versatile speaker," Purrington said. "Bo was very good in discussion but he's a natural performer and drama really takes advantage of those talents he has. He's quickly learned the category and become one of the best in the state. Judges loved Bo's charisma and found him to be a really likable, sensitive performer.
The duo of Luke Schroder and Billie Miller placed seventh, as did junior Aletta Arndt, in Prose.
"Billie and Luke are naturals on stage and that is what duo is all about," Purrington said. "Duo involves two acting a scene like you would on stage. Billie and Luke have emerged this season as incredibly mature performers who command attention. Judges really liked the maturity and honesty of their performance.
"We are proud of all of our qualifiers," Purrington added. "To be a medalist at state is a truly special honor that all of our medalists deserve."