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Speech teams converge on Red Wing

Megan Graves (left) and Maria Pearson practice their duo speech Tuesday afternoon at Red Wing High School. (Republican Eagle photos by John R. Russett)

Almost every room at Red Wing High School will be put to use Saturday as hundreds of students from area speech teams gather to polish their skills leading up to the state tournament in April.

Close to 425 students from 21 teams will participate in the tournament, which has taken place in Red Wing for at least the last 38 years, said Heather Finholm, RWHS speech team coach.

“It really is quite amazing,” Finholm said, who is in her eighth year as coach. “It’s seems like a lot of chaos.”

Finholm said many of the schools competing on Saturday will be in Red Wing’s section for the state competition, so this weekend provides a good opportunity to see what the team will be up against when it’s time for state.

Students will be judged in 13 categories, Finholm said, and the majority of judges from Saturday’s competition will judge the state tournament as well, so students will get the chance for some direct feedback before the statewide competition begins.

The team practices every Tuesday, with optional practices on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which have been well-attended so far this year, said Megan Graves, who is in her fourth year on the team and one of four team captains.

“Our team is very dedicated this year,” she said, adding the level of dedication has played a large role in the team’s third-place finishes at all their events this year. The last time the speech team placed at any event was two years ago, Graves said.

Maria Pearson, in her fifth year and another team captain, said she is looking forward to Saturday’s event.

“(It’s) very busy, but extremely fun at the same time,” she said.

So many people come for this tournament that people end up in rooms Graves said she didn’t even know existed at the high school, which makes helping someone find their room an interesting adventure.

Graves said team captain Quintin Anderson has been involved with the speech team for four years and Inga Dudley, the fourth captain, has been with the team for six years.

Pearson said this competition is one of the first meets where they will start to work on speeches which are off-script and it helps that to be in a comfortable, familiar place for that.

The team has been practicing since January and Pearson said this has been a good year so far.

“It’s been an exciting season,” she said.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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