MARSHALL - Six members of the Marshall High School speech team earned a trip to state after placing in the top three in their categories at the Minnesota State High School League Section 2AA Speech Tournament Saturday at Mankato West High School.
Heading to state competition in Blaine on Friday are: Jessica Oaxaca, who took first in drama; Malak Shahin, placing second in great speeches; Emily Mortier, taking second in storytelling; Skylar Breczinksi, placing third in prose and Lestat Clemmer and Ariel Smith, who took third in duo. The speech team also placed second out of 13 teams at the tournament, just behind Chanhassen. Chaska placed third and Dassel-Cokato placed fourth.
Contestants who advanced to finals but did not place in the top three are: Tom Wyatt-Yerka, fourth in oratory; Jacob Greathouse, fourth in storytelling; Sara Antony, sixth in informative; Kayli Ginocchio, seventh in informative; Danny West, seventh in humorous and Talitha Black, seventh in creative expression.
Front row, left to right: Ariel Smith, Malak Shahin, Jessica Oaxaca, Emily Mortier. Back row, left to right: Lestat Clemmer, Skylar Breczinski
MHS head speech coach Rick Purrington said Saturday was a good day for his team.
"As a team, we finished the season really strong," he said. "Earlier in the season, Chaska had beaten us twice. But over the last few weeks, our kids put in a lot of time and effort to polish themselves for sections, and it paid off. These kids know how hard they need to work to get ready for high stakes tournaments.
"At sections, there's always the excitement for those who qualify, but there's always disappointments too. A few of our seniors who have been doing so well all season just missed qualifying. In the end, our section is one of the toughest in the state, and so I am really happy with these results and our team's preparation."
This will be Oaxaca's third trip to state, and she was the state champion in extemporaneous reading last year. This was her first time qualifying in drama, Purrington said.
"At sections, she beat last year's state champion in drama, so the sky is the limit for Jessica," Purrington said. "There's no doubt she has been one of the most successful team members in MHS speech team history."
Oaxaca said she wasn't sure she wanted to do extemporaneous reading again this season, but she wanted to go with a familiar category. She had competed in prose and thought drama was related.
"I thought it would be beneficial," Oaxaca said.
Oaxaca's drama piece is about the fear of living in the United States as an illegal immigrant. She said her character is a woman working in a sewing factory.
"She lives in constant fear of being taken all the time," Oaxaca said.
Oaxaca said she had been defeated by last year's state champ in drama at Eastview, so she was pleased with her win on Saturday.
"It was like the main goal because she was a really big threat," Oaxaca said.
Shahin is returning to state in great speeches after qualifying for the first time last year as a sophomore.
This will be the first time to state for Mortier, Clemmer and Smith. Purrington said that Mortier has been in storytelling for the last three years and has really emerged this season.
"In storytelling, Emily needs to know 15 stories and before each round draws which one she will perform," Purrington said.
Breczinksi's prose piece is about a boy who wonders about and researches his dad's time in Vietnam and discovers that his dad was mistreated in a POW camp, Purrington said.
For state, Oxaca said her plan is just to make it as far as she can.
"And give it my all, like Mr. Purrington says, have no regrets," Oaxaca said.