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A wish come true

When Red Wing High School senior Mikayla Cota began her sixth year in speech this past February, she had one goal: to make it to the Minnesota State High School League state speech tournament.

On Thursday evening, she could safely cross that task off her list. Cota placed third at the section 1AA speech tournament, qualifying her for the state competition, which will be this Friday in Blaine, Minn.

"She has practiced hard," speech adviser Heather Finholm said. "She has definitely earned the spot."

Cota has competed in the story telling category throughout her speech career. At the state competition, she will not know exactly what story she will be telling until 30 minutes before she performs.

"It's a very intense category," Finholm said. "She's judged on her ability to interpret and bring the characters to life and be able to do so extemporaneously."

And though the category is difficult, Cota said it's a category she loves.

"Story telling is one of the more energetic and free categories, where you can have the most liberties," Cota said. "Being a theater person, I was drawn to that category."

This isn't the first time Cota has competed at the state level. She also qualified during her sophomore year. But this time, the senior said she is more prepared and more confident going into the state competition.

"I was ... terrified because I was still an underclassman," she recalled. "Now I've had two more years of experience."

But that doesn't mean Cota will go into the competition unrehearsed. Though she doesn't know exactly which story she will tell, she does know it will be one of 15 stories selected from the Brothers' Grimm fairy tales.

She will spend plenty of time between now and Friday running through those stories and outlining how she would tell them.

"I look over stories," Cota said. "I create intros for the stories inside my head."

Since she's already completed her goal to make it to state, Cota said her new goal is a bit simpler.

"Just to have fun," she said. "If I make it into the final championship rounds, I will be over the moon."

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.