Edina Zephyrus

Edina Speech Team Reaches State Finals

courtesy of Hayden Uihlein

courtesy of Hayden Uihlein

Ben Gustafson, print editor in chief

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At nine a.m. on Friday, April 20, Edina arrived at the Minnesota State High School League State Speech Tournament with three competitors, hoping to break a state medalist drought that had lasted for more than a decade. At six p.m., all three of Edina’s competitors left the tournament with medals around their necks. This year, for the first time since 2005, students from Edina High School reached the final round of the speech state tournament when senior Saumya Mangalick took eighth in serious interpretation of prose, sophomore Theo Teske finished sixth in extemporaneous speaking, and senior captain Tanner Jones was awarded third place, also in extemporaneous speaking.

Before this year, the last Edina students to make state final rounds were 2005 graduates Erik Davis (7th place) and Nathan Elliot (6th place), who placed in the events discussion and extemporaneous speaking as seniors, respectively. After that, a thirteen-year drought began that was marked by Edina students only periodically qualifying to the tournament. For suburbs like Edina, Jones says that’s abnormal. “When I looked at the state brochure I was shocked by, frankly, how bad we’ve been. Schools like Eagan, Eastview, Lakeville, and Apple Valley have been qualifying dozens of students and crowding the final rounds for the past twenty years,” he said.

“It was a great experience. We were uncertain that we’d make the state tournament, much less reach the final round,” said Jones, who finished second at the Section 6AA tournament to qualify for state. “I certainly don’t think any of us expected that we’d all make final rounds.”

At this year’s state tournament, Apple Valley, Eastview, Eagan, and Lakeville North all finished in the top five of the state tournament sweepstakes award. Edina took last place in the overall sweepstakes, something Edina’s competitors attribute to their low amount of entries. “We didn’t have a chance at sweeps from the get-go since only three of us qualified. Our goal was to do as well as possible with the people we had,” Teske said.

Edina’s extemporaneous speaking team, which had more state finalists this year than any other school, has been the leading force behind Edina speech’s recent surge. Jones, who’s been ranked as high as tenth in the nation in the activity this year, reached the final round of the annual Grand National Tournament as a junior and was the first-ever Edina student to attend the annual Montgomery Bell Academy Round Robin, a prestigious tournament to which only the top 16 competitors in the nation are invited each year. Jones is also qualified to the Tournament of Champions which will be held in May.

In extemporaneous speaking, participants are tasked with delivering complex seven-minute speeches answering prompts about current events with only 30 minutes of preparation. To add to the challenge, students are expected to accurately cite between six and ten sources in each speech. “One of the biggest challenges is remembering the exact dates and authors of every source when you don’t have any access to your notes during the speech, but when you have a big audience, like you do in the state final, you have to make sure you get all of that right,” Teske said.

In the state final round, Jones answered the question “What impact have President Donald Trump’s policies and actions had on the legacy of President Barack Obama in the domestic scene?” and Teske responded to the prompt “Should the Congress and the White House do more to reduce the rising federal budget deficit and national debt?”.

For his part, Teske, who will also be attending the Tournament of Champions, was the middle school national champion in extemporaneous speaking in 2016 (the first-ever Edina student with such an accomplishment) and was the youngest competitor in this year’s state final round. “It’s very rare for someone to have this much success at such a young age. Mark my words: Theo Teske will be a state champion and maybe even a national champion too,” Jones said.

The pair, along with junior Mark Kivimaki, will represent Edina’s speech team at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in June, the most prestigious tournament of the year.

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About the Writer
Ben Gustafson, print editor-in-chief
Ben “BennyGeezy” Gustafson came into this world on Thanksgiving of 1999 (unfortunately the hospital food wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving dinner that his parents were looking forward to). Of his many achievements, Ben believes his most impressive was finishing in 3rd place at the 2008 Minnesota State Cup Stacking Championships. When asked about his flaws, Ben...
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Edina Speech Team Reaches State Finals