HIGH SCHOOL SPEECH: PAS, Edgerton fare well at local tournament

County schools combine for 11 medals on successful day

Pipestone Area School senior speech participant Chloe Olivier discussed a poem called “Things I Didn’t Know I Loved” by Nazim Hikmet, a Turkish author and playwright.

Teammate Madison Purdin gave a dramatic interpretation of “The Witness” by Shannon Cartwright. Other Arrows discussed controversial topics, like Noah Gearhart’s extemporaneous speech on reproductive rights.

Seven Pipestone Area Schools students earned eight medals at the district’s own speech tournament this past Saturday. Pictured are (front row, l-to-r) Chloe Olivier, Sophie Olivier and Elsa Stogdill. Back row, Madison Purdin, Isaiah Sandy, Noah Gearhart and Olyvia Weber. The top-six students in 13 different categories received medals for their excellence. A photo gallery from the event can be found at www.pipestonestar.com. (Photo by Eric Viccaro)

Edgerton Public freshman Jael Lopez Garcia wowed everyone with her speeches on several subjects — ranging from foster care to drug addiction and methods of learning — en route to a gold medal.

“I was really surprised,” Lopez Garcia said. “I was very excited. It’s a huge accomplishment since I am just a freshman.”

These were just some of the highlights from Saturday’s Pipestone Area Schools’ speech tournament, which took place in various classrooms with awards in the school auditorium.

This marked the first time since 2019 a speech tournament was conducted in Pipestone.

“Consistently hosting tournaments is something that halted for us after the pandemic (COVID-19) hit,” PAS speech coach Samantha Davis said in an email to The Pipestone County Star.

“Speech participation numbers throughout the area have gone down,” continued Davis, “and we have had some changes in the coaching staff since then as well. I think hosting this tournament has helped give our team and our coaches confidence in their abilities.”

Davis said the community rallied together to put on the event, which wrapped up before 5 p.m. Saturday as light snow fell outside. The Arrows finished with 32 points, which was good enough for fourth on the sweepstakes ladder.

PAS earned eight medals at the event, and nearby Edgerton claimed three.

The most endearing part of the awards ceremony is watching the students’ peers give each category winner a standing ovation, and the cheering rivaled anything you’d find at a sporting event.

“I think for Edgerton, we are one of the smallest schools in our section,” Edgerton Public coach Amy Blom noted. “We proved we can compete with the best in the area.”

The medals serve as a reflection of the type of talent found at Edgerton, one of three speech programs in the county. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton’s team competed in the Melrose Tournament near Sauk Centre.

River Valley (Montevideo) was the large-school division winner with 51 points while Minneota captured the small schools contest (29 points, five more than Adrian).

Edgerton’s Keira Cruz Medina placed third in humorous interpretation, in which a detective investigates the death of Humpty Dumpty. Kaitlyn Van Otterloo earned third place in storytelling.

This was a banner day for PAS, with the Olivier sisters both coming away with medals — Chloe Olivier grabbed silvers in both poetry reading and informative speaking while Sophie Olivier claimed fourth in creative expression covering the subject of color guard. Chloe’s informative talk was on sheep.

“This was the first season I was able to be with my sister (on the speech team),” said Chloe Olivier, who will study veterinary science at Iowa State University, in her sixth year with the team. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch her grow.”

During the awards program, Purdin received a silver medal in dramatic interpretation. PAS teammates Isaiah Sandy and Gearhart snagged silver and bronze medals, respectively, in extemporaneous speech. Sandy gave a presentation on presidential rankings.

Purdin said participating in speech has helped her become more comfortable talking to strangers.

“This was an opportunity to go out of my comfort zone,” said Sandy when asked why he joined the speech team. “Public speaking will be beneficial to me later on.”

Gearhart chimed in, saying, “I really enjoy this. It pushes me to keep up with current events, and to read more than I would on my own.”

Olyvia Weber earned third in informative speaking, covering the “evolution of language through literature.” Wrapping up the local honors, Elsa Stogdill was sixth overall in original oratory. Stogdill’s speech was titled, “Why we need the arts.”

Purdin said she will attend North Dakota State University in Fargo, enrolling in the criminal law program. Sandy would like to study engineering with aspirations of becoming an astronaut. Gearhart will study mathematics at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City.

What’s Ahead?

Both PAS and Edgerton Public are gearing up for the upcoming postseason slate, which will begin for the Flying Dutch with a subsection meet on April 2 in Windom. The Arrows’ subsection meet is set for April 6 in Minneota.

The Section 3A meet will be on Saturday, April 13, at Redwood Valley. Keep in mind, there are only two classes for speech — as established by the Minnesota State High School League. The state meet will be Friday, April 19, at Shakopee.