By Kelsey Rausch
For the first time in Westonka Speech history, Westonka came away as Wright County Conference Champion, unseating the Orono Speech Team, which has won the conference for the past 13 years.
In each of the past four years, Westonka has seen an improved performance at the Wright County Conference Championships. Last year, the team placed second in the conference overall, with a point total just shy of Orono’s. This year at the Feb. 27 WCC Championships, a whopping 16 students made finals and ended up on the podium, so Westonka scored a grand total of 103 team points, beating Orono’s team points total of 91.
Out of the 13 categories, Westonka Speech captured the top spot in three: Mound Westonka High School junior Annika Wulf placed first for her performance in Original Oratory, junior Merrick Gormley placed first for his performance in Poetry, and seniors Grace Hanson and Trinity Bielke placed first for their Duo. Additionally, Westonka Speech had five students place second in their categories: ninth-grader Grace Cunningham in Discussion, junior Josh Nkhata in Creative Expression, ninth-grader Laura Sunnarborg, senior Adam Born and senior Conner Jones.
Sophomore Griffin Meisel placed third in Extemporaneous Speaking, while sophomore Beckett James (ES), junior Katherine Johnson (Info) and junior Maya Jable (OO) all placed fourth in their categories. Ninth-grader Connor Houston and junior Kate Moch (Duo), senior Gage Olson (STY), ninth-grader Ilana Andrev (Info) and ninth-grader Maureen Reily (ER) placed fifth in their categories. Lastly, ninth-grader Julia Aland placed sixth in Dramatic Interpretation.
Westonka and Orono also co-hosted the Odyssey Speech Tournament on Feb. 29. For the past three years, this tournament has been an awesome collaboration of two fiercely competitive teams. Westonka Speech had several competitors hit the podium on Saturday. Most notably, junior Ryan Allen came away as the champion of Storytelling.