MARSHALL - Being on a national stage for speech at a high school known for its speech program was worth the trip to California for several of the Marshall High School speech members.
Seven members of the MHS speech team, Bo Erickson, Megan Harmening, Luke Schroeder, Eric Deutz, Abby Surprenant, Aletta Arndt and Nick Evans, had qualified for the Individual Events Tournament of Champions, which was last month in San Francisco, Calif. Harmening and Erickson had advanced to quarterfinals in original oratory, placing 15th and 16th respectively.
"We are very happy for both Meghan and Bo," said MHS speech coach Rick Purrington. "They are both very talented and this season they have grown into top-notch speakers who deserve all the success they've had. It was especially exciting for Meghan as she had some tough luck at sections and didn't advance to state in April. So as a senior, this was a great way for her to end her speech career."
Marshall High School speech team members Bo Erickson and Meghan Harmening made it to quarterfinals during a national speech tournament in San Francisco, Calif., in May.
"It was amazing, it was good to see all the competition from different states because everybody does it so differently," Harmening said. She said some of the differences include how speech team members from other states taking part in oratory go about writing on their topics or the topics in general.
"It was a really good experience, it's fun to compete on a national stage," Erickson said. He said it was also great to go up against competitors he hasn't seen throughout the year.
Erickson had qualified for both original oratory and drama. For his original oratory, Erickson tackled the topic "Our Inability To Listen," how as a society we are bad at listening and only remember about 25 percent of what we hear. Harmening's oratory was about the oversexualization of girls through the princess lifestyle.
"I called it 'princessism,'" she said.
Harmening started speech her sophomore year, beginning in discussion before switching to oratory. She wasn't sure about going far this past season, especially when it came to nationals.
"At first, I didn't really think I had a chance," Harmening said. "When I got that final qualifying rank, it was unreal to me at first."
And although she didn't get the chance to go to state, Harmening said competing at nationals was an exciting experience.
"It was a very good way to end the year and high school in general," she said.
Erickson said competing at James Logan High School for nationals was one of the highlights, as the school has a prestigious speech program.
"They have a legendary coach there," Erickson said. "It was a very nice place to compete." He said he and Harmening were lucky to break into quarterfinals, earning crystal trophies for their efforts.
Even though he and his fellow MHS speech members were going up against the best in the nation, Erickson said that since the season started in January and nationals wasn't until May, they had plenty of time to prepare.
"Minnesota is generally one of the most competitive states, I personally wasn't that nervous," Erickson said.
Harmening said she learned something new with every new speech she heard. "It was a very good opportunity" just to see other people compete in her last tournament, she said.
Erickson said he plans to stick with drama and oratory next season for his senior year and that he and fellow speech members are looking forward to competing at nationals in Texas. As for Harmening, she said she's done with speech.
Purrington said the trip to nationals was paid by the students themselves with help from the Speech Booster Club, the Pride in the Tiger Foundation and other fundraising.