Last Friday, the Cannon Falls speech team walked into Lakeville High School for the Minnesota State Speech Championship with high hopes. With twenty speakers, Cannon Falls had the most competitors in the tournament and won the first ever awarded state speech team title with 43 points. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and Mounds Park Academy tied for second place with 23 points each. There are 192 Class A teams in the state, and 101 of them competed on Friday for the state title. Also, for the first time in team history, Cannon Falls had two individual event champions on the same day.
Great Speeches was announced first and Cannon Falls shined with the top two spots. Senior Matt Breuer was named state champion, receiving his third state medal in Great Speeches (3rd in 2015; 6th in 2014). Matt's performance analyzed the speech "That's What America Is" by slain LBGT rights icon Harvey Milk. Teammate senior Callie Loeschke placed in the same event. Callie's performance and analysis of Gloria Steinhem's commencement speech "Living the Revolution" propelled her to 2nd place.
For the second year in a row, Cannon Falls had three speakers in Extemporaneous Speaking (ES) finals. Sophomore Grant Schlichting continued the Cannon Falls streak of winning ES (Sydney Erhardt 2013-15), picking up his second state medal (8th in 2015). In finals, Grant answered the question "What priorities should the US pursue to enhance its foreign interest policies?"
Junior Miranda Felton earned a 4th place finish, collecting her second state medal (5th in 2015). Miranda answered the question "What strategy should world powers pursue to confront the radical Islamic state movement?"
Freshmen Katie Allen clinched her first state medal by finishing in 7th place. Katie discussed her solutions to the major challenges facing the EU for her last speech of the season.
Seniors Matt Moskal and Bjorn Pearson teamed up in the final round of Discussion. Matt took home his first state medal with a 3rd place finish. Bjorn now has a second state medal (4th in 2015) by securing 7th place this year. In Discussion, the entire state has an overall topic to research, which this year was "Sports in America." In the final round, the specific topic dealt with finding solutions to the economic and social inequalities that cause differences in sports programs from school to school.
Garnering their first state medals were senior Emma Thomley and freshman Hannah Singewald. Emma competed in the final round of Extemporaneous Reading (ER) and was awarded 6th place. ER is an interpretation event in which students perform from a list of cuttings to be read aloud. This year all cuttings were taken from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, and Emma performed a section entitled "Arrival on Himmel Street." Hannah's performance blended three poems into a program entitled "Monster" to be the 7th place medalist. Her piece dealt with the media issues that surround school shootings through the perspective of a mother and her son who is a killer.
State competition is tough and Cannon Falls had another seven of our incredibly talented speakers who placed from 9th to 12th and just missed being honored in the final round. Sophomore Iris French in Storytelling was the closest; she tied for the final 8th place spot going into finals with two other speakers and lost on tiebreaker.
The rest of the state championship team who spoke on Friday were sophomore James Watson in Creative Expression, junior Quinn Sabin in Discussion, junior Jordynn Zier in Drama, senior Lily French in Humorous, freshman Laura Johnson and sophomore Ella Coyle in Informative, senior Rianne Lund and junior Amanda Wulf in Oratory, and sophomore Samantha Hamann in Storytelling.
The 2016 season has been a litany of accomplishments and milestones by this exceptionally hard working group of students. The eighty-two CF students who went into competition this year earned over four hundred individual awards, resulting in twelve (of fourteen) tournament wins, including the last four: HVL Conference, Subsections, Sections and State. This year's nine medalists will push the Bomber all time medal count to 103, making Cannon Falls the fourth winningest team in Class A history. The team is coached by Holly Winget, Cal Vande Hoef, John Fogarty and Ashley Howden.