FAIRMONT - Local students enjoyed performing on their own turf at the Cardinal Speech Invitation, where Fairmont Area Schools took second place.
"You always want to do well at the Fairmont meet," said Caitlin Parsley, a senior, who took second in original oratory. "There are over 500 people here; it's bigger and there are a lot of expectations."
Elizabeth Kim, a senior who captured first in great speeches, agreed: "I think the expectations are a little higher. I do enjoy it; the competition is great. Our coaches are excellent and we have an extremely talented group of people involved."
Sparks of Martin County West laughs while
working on his speech with teammate Jacob Helmstetter, left, during the Cardinal Invitational Tournament Saturday in a hallway full of other competitors talking to the wall as they practice their speeches.
It's also an important tournament, said Roxy Janke, co-head speech coach.
"This is an important tournament in terms of the season," she said. "We're about half-way through the season."
The meet is a tune-up for the National Forensic League qualifiers this week, Janke said. Next up will be sub-section and section.
"This is a big tournament in terms of solid competition," she added, "with kids hoping to make their way to nationals or state tournaments."
Her kids are "so excited about the level of competition, all the people they get to compete against. Some they have been friends with for years. It's a gift for them," Janke said.
"I love it," said Grant Becker, a senior in his sixth year of competing, noting that his favorite thing about speech is the people he's met. "The thing about speech is they make it competitive, and I'm very, very competitive."
"I love being able to compete in a performance setting," said Nick Johnson, a senior who's participated in speech in since seventh grade.
For him the benefit of being at home is for the fans: "You want to do well for them."
"You have to bring it this time because it's home," said Molly Hawkins, an eighth-grader in her second year of speech. "I think (speech competition) prepares you for talking in front of other people, brings out your confidence."
For Emily Kloeckner, as freshman in her first year of speech, she prefers the comfort of home to traveling to away tournaments.
"I like it better here," she said. "You know where all the rooms are; it's your second home and you feel more comfortable."
Halfway through her first season, Kloeckner is enjoying competitive speech for the same reasons as many of her peers: "It adds to your confidence, and I like the stories that you get to hear everybody do, and you get to meet a lot of people."
In the 19-team tournament, Marshall placed first with 139 points, Fairmont came in second with 79, Mankato East took third with 32, Mankato West was fourth with 30, and Worthington High School was fifth with 29.
Individual results for area schools:
Zach Brown, Fairmont, creative expression and humorous interpretation (three-way tie with Mankato East and Marshall); Elizabeth Kim, Fairmont, great speeches; Anagha Komaragiri, Fairmont, informative; and Noel Bjerken, Martin County West, extemporaneous reading.
Caitlin Parsley, Fairmont, original oratory; Katiana Fisher, Fairmont, extemporaneous reading; and Grant Becker/Kara Nielsen, Fairmont, dramatic duo.
Kara Nielsen, Fairmont, extemporaneous reading; Mikayla Soelter, Fairmont, storytelling; and Claire Loveall, Blue Earth Area, dramatic interpretation.
Courtney Guetter, Fairmont, informative; and Julia Okerman, Fairmont, extemporaneous reading.
Lauren Carlson, Fairmont, storytelling.
Payton Schlomann, Fairmont, discussion; Jordan Voss, Fairmont, drama; and Anna Hernes, Fairmont, extemporaneous reading.
Mary Kennedy, Fairmont, drama; Andrew Johnson, Fairmont, discussion; and Anagha Komaragiri, Fairmont, great speeches.
Peter Nielson, Fairmont, great speeches; and Courtney Guetter, Fairmont, drama.