A season of speaking

Now that the speech season has begun, the Cannon Falls speech team is gearing up for the long season ahead.



After placing at the John Marshall tournament, CF speechies pose for a picture.

The CFHS speech season is kicking off, and for the last two Saturdays, CF speechies have been making their mark on the podium.

Cannon Falls Speech Tournament

On the morning of February 5th, 2022, 32 students of Cannon Falls High School rolled out of their beds, dressed up in business formal suits and dresses, packed lunches, located the most convenient source of caffeine, and headed to school. The Cannon Falls speech team was back in action, ready for their home tournament. One that would not be like any other. 

The 2022 Cannon Falls Invitational Speech Meet was the first in-person tournament attended by the team since March of 2020. About 350 students from 26 schools competed in three rounds. Speechies were ecstatic to return to their natural state of performing in the same room as judges and peers. Rookie speechie Sonya Milkovia expressed her delight: “It was exciting. I was nervous but it was so much fun to listen to everyone else’s speech.” 

However, the pandemic is not out of mind yet. At the tournament, the team took a few precautions regarding the virus. Speakers and judges were asked to wear masks, although speakers were given the option to remove their face coverings while performing. Speakers were asked to remain in small groups and avoid congregating in the cafeteria, as would be usual at pre-pandemic tournaments. 

Overall, the tournament looked just like a pre-pandemic tournament, except for two major changes. First, to avoid packing people into the auditorium, the typical awards presentation was replaced by a virtual one.  Co-head Coach Holly Winget touches on the second biggest change; “For the Judging, we offered them a hybrid. You could either judge completely online by putting your rankings and critiques online, you could do your ranks online but with written critiques, or you could do total paper.” Many recognize this as a direct result of the pandemic; previous to the 2021 virtual season, the idea of online critiques was in the minds of very few. These challenges brought their own challenges and adjustments, but coach Winget puts it best when she says; “The (technology) cat is out of the bag, and it will never go back in.”

At the end of the day, the Cannon Falls speech team achieved a decisive win. In total, 14 team members went home with awards. The team produced two first-place awards; Kendahl Lawless in Dramatic Interpretation and Tristan Qualey in Poetry. Additionally, they received the most points in the team sweepstakes, with 46 points total. Each speechie walked away from the tournament feeling accomplished and exhausted, but ready to practice hard and improve in preparation for the next competition.

Other varsity award winners include Ashton Beyer and Connor Loeschke receiving 2nd place in Discussion and Great Speeches respectively and 3rd place awards for Lydia Pedersen in Extemporaneous Speaking and Bianca Caputo in Informative Speaking. Awards for 4th place went to Meagan Pedersen in Creative Expression, Miah Barsness in Poetry, and Sara Auger in Storytelling while 5th place was awarded to Ava Brokate in Extemporaneous Reading, Grace Churchill in Poetry, and Jessica Baszuro in Prose. In the Duo category, Bowen Maki and Kendahl Zimmerman received 6th place.

Novice competitors were given separate awards at the Cannon Falls tournament, with the placings as follows; Lauren Capelle receiving 4th place in Extemporaneous Reading, Josh Delk taking 6th place in Extemporaneous Speaking, Thomas Coyle receiving 4th place in Great Speeches, Wil Brokate placing second in Humor, Grace Parks with 2nd place in Informative Speaking, and Sophia Hanson placing second in Poetry.

Rochester John Marshall Tournament

On Saturday, February 12, the Cannon Falls speech team loaded a bus to travel to the John Marshall Speech Spectacular tournament in Rochester. The team arrived at Cannon Falls High School at the early hour of 6:30 a.m. and prepared for the long day ahead. 

Dressed in their finest business attire, the team entered the school and set up camp in the cafeteria. After a set of vocal warmups, speakers prepared their speeches and entered their rooms for the first round to commence. 

The John Marshall Speech Spectacular had the three rounds standard of every speech tournament, plus a final round for the top six competitors in each of the thirteen categories. In the final round, speakers perform in front of three judges (in normal rounds, there is one judge), and final round scores are finalized to determine their rankings head-to-head. 

Cannon Falls was very successful at the John Marshall tournament, bringing home the third place trophy as an overall team. Individual awards had a novice/varsity split, meaning that all speakers who went to the final round got a varsity award and the top six novice (students who have never earned a varsity award) competitors placed in order of prelims performance, without a final round. 

Three Cannon Falls speakers were champions of their category: Ashton Beyer in Discussion, Connor Loeschke in Great Speeches, and Sophia Hanson in Poetry. Aubry Conway received first place in the novice division of Storytelling. Cannon Quade in Humorous and Lauren Ritz in Storytelling both placed second in the varsity division, with Madi Dettman and Lily Nygaard in Duo, Lauren Capelle in Extemporaneous Reading, and Sonya Milkova in Prose earning second place in the novice division. Third place awards in the varsity division went to Kendall Lawless in Drama, Grace Miller in Extemporaneous Reading, and Lydia Pedersen in Extemporaneous Speaking. Thomas Coyle earned a third place novice award in Great Speeches. Tristin Qualey placed fourth in the varsity division of Poetry, and Grey Springer earned fourth place in novice Humorous. Bianca Caputo in Informative Speaking and Emily Barrett from Original Oratory both earned fifth place in the varsity division. Wil Brokate earned sixth place in novice Humorous. 

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there was no awards ceremony held at John Marshall in Rochester. However, they put a slideshow together and gave a video to each team to announce awards. Written critiques of each round were also sent out virtually on Saturday evening for each speaker to reflect on and prepare for the upcoming week’s tournament in Farmington.