By Per Peterson
Speech or Spain? That was the decision facing Tracy Area High School senior Anna Johnston this year.
The decision was an easy one: Plaza de España would have to wait.
Johnston actually experienced both. She traveled with her classmates to Spain, but left a few days early so she could compete in this year’s sub-section speech tournament. She did well enough there to qualify for this past weekend’s Section 3A meet where she helped her team place second overall with a third-place finish in Poetry.
“Making the decision to leave early was easy,” Johnston said. “Spain will still be there after I graduate, but a senior year speech season only happens once.”
Johnston said she got a little practice time in while abroad and admitted to being a bit rusty for sub-sections. But she quickly got back on track.
“By the time sections rolled around, I was mostly recovered from the lack of practice,” she said. “My performance at sections this year was a bit weaker than it was last year, but that was more a consequence of my slow start at the beginning of the season than of my trip to Spain.”
Individually, Johnston was one of six TAHS students to qualify for the April 21-22 State Speech Tournament in Apple Valley, along with Noah Tiegs, Poetry; PaNhia Vang, Drama; MaiDee Vang, Drama; Sarita Hook, Extemporaneous Reading; and Marian Schnell, Extemporaneous Speaking.
Of the 13 TAHS speakers, 11 made it to the final round of the section tournament, including: Quentin Cochran, fifth in Info; Angelique Woodrich, sixth in Drama; Maddy Schumacher, fourth in Discussion; Stewart Chisham, fourth in Creative Expression; and Kaylee Campbell, fourth in Ex. Reading. Alternates are: Annaka Hook, Ex. Reading; Delaynie Meyer, Poetry; Joshua Herr, Original Oratory; Becca Surprenant, Informative.
TMB placed three in the six final Drama spots.
“I think as a team we did better than I expected,” Tiegs said. “I knew that we were a strong team, but I didn’t know we were that strong. Eleven out of our 13 competitors broke into the final round, which is a really good percentage.”
“And to have six people going to state is a lot,” said MaiDee Vang.
Vang surprised herself a bit with her second-place finish.
“Everyone was just so good,” she said.
Tiegs said going into sections is different than a regular-season meet.
“I try to get into a different headspace where I know that this is the meet that really counts,” he said. “Every round I have to give my best performances.”