St. Michael-Albertville has a placewinner at the state speech tournament for the first time in over a decade. Isaac Heieie finished in eighth place in prose to finish his senior season. He is the first medalist from in twelve years and only the third person to place at state in school history.
Also competing at state from STMA were Mike Papas in creative expression, Jed Rothstein in extemporaneous speaking, and Michael Bruner and Katrina Budde in duo interpretation.
“They all held their own,” said head coach Mike Frickstad. “This was a great finish to an amazing speech season.”
Heieie and Papas were making their second appearances at state.
“Everyone was so good,” said Heieie of his competition. “I had to sit down when I saw my name posted for finals. It was incredible to see my name up there.”
Heieie’s category was the last announced of 13 events. The packed cafeteria had nearly emptied out, leaving fellow state competitor Mike Papas and his parents to wait with Heieie.
The tournament was not without some drama beyond the performances. Heieie had to compete in a historic room of nine finalists in prose after a tab room error left someone out by mistake. The ninth person was added at the last minute. Normally only the top eight are selected to advance to the finals.
Minnesota’s state speech tournament is regarded as one of the toughest tournaments in the nation, due to the number of top teams in the state. Seventy schools sent competitors to state in Class AA and 100 in Class A. A total of 328 schools field speech teams in two classes, according to the Minnesota State High School League press release.
St. Buffaville, the co-op of STMA and Buffalo, competes separately for sections and state. Buffalo last had a placewinner at state in 2010.
Heieie's final round performance at state was the capstone to five years with the speech team. He started competing in eight grade. “I honestly feel like this is the perfect way to end my speech career,” he said as he stood holding the large MSHSL medal. “I couldn't have planned it better myself.”