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Elite eight to state

By Staff | Apr 25, 2014

Submitted photo The Rugby High School Speech team shown with their awards after the regional meet in Harvey. Back row: Coach Tammy Kruger, Breanna Thompson, ReeAnn Christianson, Zach Miller, Kyler Odden, Thor Skjelver, Jacob Berginski; Middle row: Morgan Hjelden, Mackenzie Johnson, Darby Deckert, Emily Stier, Anni Stier, Madalyn Pretzer, McKenzie Oppen, Coach Kyle Vareberg; Front row: Karsyn Hager, Tristin Lunde, Rebekah Wangler, Kelsey Schmaltz (kneeling), Elizabeth Skjelver, Alissa Volk, Kaitlyn Boucher and Maria Mack.

For eight members of the Rugby High School speech team, qualifying for state was hard enough.

“There really is no way to predict what will occur,” coach Kyle Vareberg said.

The eight members are competing today at the state meet in Mandan High School. They are eighth-graders Kaitlyn Boucher and Tristin Lunde, freshman McKenzie Oppen, sophomore Rebekah Wangler, juniors Zach Miller, Darby Deckert and ReeAnn Christianson and senior Kelsey Schmaltz. For each one, the stakes couldn’t be higher. They will compete in various events against 75 teams. The smallest events have 25 students. Only the top eight in each event make it to finals.

“No one at the state level is there to make a mistake or fool around. They are there to finalize,” Vareberg said. “Our eight students have just as much chance as any of the rest of these state competitors.”

Deckert said: “It’ll be a good experience. We have a young team with some eighth graders, but they and the older ones will do the best they can.”

Three of the eight statebound students are pulling double duty with regards to events. In addition to being in a duo with Christianson, Deckert will also compete against teammate Schmaltz in extemporaneous programmed reading (An event where a piece is picked in a draw room, cut and read in a certain style).

“I think it’s good to have Kelsey in the same category,” Deckert said. “Even though we’re going against each other, we’ll both do the best we can and support each other.”

Deckert’s duo partner Christianson and fellow competitor Schmaltz are also pulling double duty. Both Schmaltz and Christianson will perform solo interpretive pieces at the meet. Both eighth-graders will compete in the same category: radio broadcasting.

Last year 11 team members competed at state.

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