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Perham Speech Team brings home state medals

Students who advanced to the state meet were, front row, left to right: Callista Wengel, Zepherian Richardson, Paityn Lund and Julia Pearson. Back row: Emma Sweere, Chris Knutson, Rory Risk and Allison Christenson. Not pictured is Rachel Newville. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS1 / 2
Perham students who earned medals at the state meet were, left to right: Rory Risk, Chris Knutson, Julia Pearson and Rachel Newville. Here, they are joined by Head Coach Sandra Wieser-Matthews. Submitted photo2 / 2

The students of Perham’s Yellowjacket Speech Team competed at the 2014 Minnesota State Tournament last weekend, finishing the season how they started it: strong.

All nine of the Perham students who qualified for the state tournament placed within the top 15 in their speech categories. Rory Risk, Chris Knutson, Rachel Newville and Julia Pearson placed in the top eight, bringing home medals for their efforts.

Rachel Newville won her third medal at state, and the duo of Rory Risk and Chris Knutson earned their second state medal.

All of the competitors practiced and worked on improving their performance throughout the season, and those who brought home awards from state were pleased. But they all said that earning a shiny piece of metal on a ribbon wasn’t anyone’s “favorite moment” of the season.

“Not focusing on competition and just chilling as friends is what’s going to stick with me the most,” said Chris Knutson. “Every single moment I could relax and hang out with my team.”

Paityn Lund said her favorite moment was the team’s cookie baking contest, which they held during a practice after Valentine’s Day.

Competing in speech has helped several of the participants to get past or better deal with public speaking anxiety.

“Before speech, I couldn’t talk in front of my project group for school,” said Callista Wengel. “Now I can talk in front of the whole school.”

“Speech has made me realize and see, every day, how afraid people are to speak in front of an audience,” added Zepherian Richardson. “I can’t wait for next year!”

“It was a great season with a great team,” said Head Coach Sandra Wieser-Matthews (the sub-section’s Coach of the Year).

She added that the Perham team had great supporters, including assistant coaches Tricia Irvine and Kasey Wacker.

Students representing 96 Class A schools met at Blaine High School for the state tournament on April 12. Students from 50 of those schools won medals that day. In Class AA, students from 61 teams competed on April 11. Medals were awarded to students from 36 of those districts.

State Results:

Rory Risk and Chris Knutson,

Duo Interpretation: State finalists,

3rd Place; Section champions

Rachel Newville, Informative: State

finalist, 4th Place; Section runner-up

Julia Pearson, Great Speeches: State

finalist, 8th Place; Section runner-up

Allison Christenson, Poetry: State, 9th Place; Section champion

Paityn Lund, Informative: State,

9th Place; Section champion

Callista Wengel, Drama: State,

11th Place; Section champion

Zepherian Richardson, Great Speeches: State, 12th Place; Section champion

Emma Sweere, Poetry: 14th Place;

Section runner-up