With nine students advancing to finals at Saturday’s Section 3A MSHSL Speech Contest, River Valley speakers pulled out a third place team finish with 29 points behind Pipestone (43 points) and Adrian (37 points).

With nine students advancing to finals at Saturday’s Section 3A MSHSL Speech Contest, River Valley speakers pulled out a third place team finish with 29 points behind Pipestone (43 points) and Adrian (37 points).


River Valley tied for third place with Luverne. Leading the way for the team were champions Katie Schwartz and Keyen Gardner who won the duo interpretation crown and Sarah Dunn who was the winner of humorous. Molly Dunn placed second in storytelling and the duo of Ben Runck and Joe Pieschel also finished second.


Rounding out the group of seven speakers who will participate at next week’s state tournament is Briana Schmidt who took third in original oratory. Other medalists include Anna Plotz who finished in fifth place in storytelling and Kalliope Milne who won a sixth place medal in drama.


River Valley entered 20 speakers in the contest which included over 150 students from schools in the southwestern portion of the state. Other local students who participated, some barely missing the final round, were Colten Jensen, Mariah Hoyt, Katelyn Hauth, Andrew Hoffman, Katie Scamp, Jackie Reindl, Luke Reiner, Emily Meyers, Emily Scheitel, Makenna Winkelmann and Elijah Kirschstein.


Except for Scamp and Reiner who are seniors, all other River Valley speakers who participated at the section contest are in grades seven through 11, creating a bright future for next year’s team.


The Class A Minnesota State High School League Speech Contest will be held next Saturday at Blaine High School. Students will be accompanied by coaches Brianna Jensen, Darcy Hoyt and Cheryl Neidt. Neidt will also serve as a judge for Friday's Class AA contest and Saturday's A contest. Complete contest details including times and state room/round assignments are available on the MSHSL website: mshsl.org.


Sarah Dunn is the first seventh grader in school history to earn section championship honors. She is only the second Springfield Junior High student to qualify for state, following in her older sister Molly’s footsteps to qualify as a seventh grade student.


Sarah will perform the Shel Silverstein short story, “The Best Daddy,” from his book, “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein.” Sarah is especially skilled at creating naturally delightful characters as she conducts a dialog about a birthday gift given to a young girl by her wickedly funny daddy.


Joining Sarah is eighth grader Briana Schmidt who has earned final round/medalist honors in varsity contests throughout the season. Briana’s original oration entitled, “A Lesson Learned,” is a speech to persuade.

Schmidt claims that as individuals in our society, we’ve become pretty lousy at accepting helpful feedback, and often we react with complacency or combustion when we are asked to make changes that would be helpful to us. Her support and examples range from those involving classrooms and the workplace, and she cites evidence and research that has been used in recent books such as, “Generation iY” and “Nurture Shock.”


Junior Molly Dunn will be competing in storytelling for the fourth year, and after being named a medalist at last year’s state tournament, she’s anxious to better her previous fifth place finish. Molly will be given preparation time to put the finishing touches on a story such as, “Mother Holle,” or “The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage,” from the book “Grimm’s Tales for Young and Old-The Complete Stories.” Storytellers are judged on their expressiveness, adherence to story plot and details, along with language and fluency as they retell the story.


The final two River Valley entries are a set of duos. One is made up of freshmen Joe Pieschel and Ben Runck, who will be performing the short play “The Crayan Map” by Oliver Leslie and Christopher Marianetti.


The story brings a set of brothers through a fantasy world as one learns to accept the difficult reality of the other’s death. Pieschel and Runck are making their first state appearance, along with teammates Katie Schwartz and Keyen Gardner, both juniors, who will be performing “August and Anna,” by Don Zolidis.


Anna is a brilliant little girl who is lacking in social grace and she is able to capture the attention of her childhood friend, August, as they navigate the ups and downs of their relationship that culminates with a high school prom date.