Winter has finally arrived in the great northwest and with it, the start of the 2012 St. Buffaville speech season. Coming off an exceptional fall campaign of congressional and public forum debate success in the National Forensic League, the combined speech team of St. Michael-Albertville and Buffalo High School started the schedule with record setting wins at Annandale, stunning successes at Maple Grove, plus experience at national-caliber meet Chanhassen. With three meets in less than a week, we look back on the busy start for eastern Wright County’s most populous speech team:
Part of the mystique behind the popularity of the speech team is the early morning departures for points unknown for meets. Convincing nearly 40 high school students to get up before the sunrise and to remember their speeches is all part of the first few meets, too. Head coach Mike Frickstad has been climbing aboard buses for speech since 1976, when he started as an assistant coach at Fosston High School in northwestern Minnesota. Nearly 40 years later, “It’s still fun,” he said, sitting down in his traditional front seat to look over the roster.
Chanhassen draws some of the very best speech teams in the state of Minnesota, and by that, the nation. St. Buffaville’s speakers, just starting their seasons, waded bravely into the melee but returned without finalists. Jed Rothstein, STMA sophomore, was just two speakers away from making finals in his category of extemporaneous speaking. “This meet is one of the biggest tournaments of the year,” he said. It can be intimidating for new team members with nearly a thousand students competing, but as Buffalo’s Conrad Weinzetl, a senior, noted. “It’s definitely easier once you have been through it once.”
St. Buffaville bounced back from a tough day at Chanhassen with a record setting one at Annandale: all 32 competitors won or placed, including 12 winning “Best of Site,” the meet’s highest honor. “That has never happened before,” said Frickstad. “And it’s a testament to how hard the team has been practicing to see these results on game day.” A throwback to an earlier era of speech meet, judges graded students either “A” or “B” versus the usual ranking common today. Awards were handed out if you earned one ‘A’ to the coveted ‘AAA’ ranking. Judges could award one student their “Best of Site” award from the evening.
Winning the best in site awards were Megan Noetzel, Jed Rothstein, Jake Tambornino, Caroline Wochnick, Betsy Bartholomew, Michael Bruner, Katrina Budde, Alisha Cole, Louie Darang, Cody Goodchild, Annie Moore, and Leah Odegard.
AAA winners included Leah Andrews, Betsy Bartholomew, Michael Bruner, Katrina Budde, Alina Chanthamontry , Alisha Cole, Louie Darang, Cody Goodchild, Tiffany Johnson, Annie Moore, Leah Odegard, Zac Tambornino, Gabrielle Thompson, Conrad Weinzetl, Zack Wellsted, and the duo of Christine Lenneman and Mallory Schneider.
AA awardees were Alex Brown, Stephanie Chartier, Anna Drobnick, Andrew Erickson, Emily Hansen, Megan Noetzel, Shannen Puett, Jed Rothstein, Marissa Stifter, Rushini Tamaldeo, Jake Tambornino, and Caroline Wochnick. Rounding out the great evening were Single A winners Jenna Halpin, Abby Hicks, Zach Pickett, and Chris Veeder.
Contrasting the traditions of Annandale was the first meet hosted by the new speech team at Maple Grove High School. A team on the rise, Maple Grove attracted some of the tough competition St. Buffaville is used to just a few miles from home. The team advanced thirteen into the finals and left the awards ceremony with two champions and numerous place winners holding their awards–multicolored stainless steel water bottles with ribbons.
For St. Buffaville the wins were very dramatic, categorically speaking. Michael Bruner won first place in drama and Megan Noetzel took home top honors in the novice division of drama. Three speakers were runners-up in their events: Jed Rothstein in extemp. speaking, Cody Goodchild in Informative and Zac Tambornino in drama. For Goodchild, known more for his extemp said on the bus home that the placing “was a big surprise.”
Third and fourth place in Great Speeches went to Conrad Weinzetl and Gabrielle Thompson, respectively. For Thompson, of Buffalo, the meet was “a turning point for getting off script” as the second meet of the year. Placing in fourth was Marissa Stifter in storytelling and Candace Balombiny in novice humorous.
Jake Tambornino took fifth in informative, along with Aubrey DelPrecio and Sydney Wiedenhold in duo novice. Sixth place honors went to Alina Chanthamontry in informative and eight place to Rushini Tamaldeo in humorous.
Next on the docket is the challenge of a national-level circuit meet at Apple Valley.
New students still welcome
Even with the start of the season underway and a roster burgeoning to the largest in school history, students at Buffalo and St. Michael-Albertville are still encouraged to join if they are interested. “Just find me or assistant coach Ms. Leuthner at STMA,” said Frickstad. For Buffalo students, “talk to someone on the team or stop by after school in the Bison Room to meet Mr. Worcester.” With the season running into early April, there is plenty of time to be part of speech. “You’ll be using these skills for life,” added Worcester.