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Speech/debate wrapping up big year

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Mason Wenzel has a chance to accomplish a pair of impressive feats over the next nine days.

This weekend, Wenzel, a senior at Mitchell High School, could become the school's second student ever to qualify three times for the national speech and debate tournament.

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The following weekend, he will compete to become the first student in state history to win three titles in the state Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking category.

"These meets are definitely big," Wenzel said Wednesday. "I'm a little tense and nervous, especially since it's my senior year. But I'm also excited -- I've been putting in a lot of work to keep up and I'll try and bring home another state title. I would be very pleased to do it again, and I hope I can."

Wenzel, along with 11 other Mitchell students, will compete in the Northern South Dakota District National Qualifying Contest in Brookings this weekend. The two-day, double-elimination competition starts Friday, kicking off the two biggest meets of the year for the Mitchell speech/debate team.

Mitchell is sending eight students to the state meet, which runs March 7-8 at Huron High School.

"This year has been a very successful year for us," speech/debate coach Ron Grimsley said. "Every tournament we've gone to, we've brought home some trophies and awards."

The speech/debate team, which has about 50 students, has competed in 16 meets this year. Competition begins in November and runs through March. Those who qualify for nationals earn a trip in June to Overland Park, Kan., for the National Forensic League Speech and Debate Tournament.

As Wenzel begins to wrap up his high school career, he has already left an impression on the team. Aside from his state championships and national tournament appearances, he also has become Mitchell High School's National Forensic League career points leader with 2,299 points.

Grimsley said students receive points for every round of competition they participate in, earning more points for wins, but also receiving points for losses.

This year, Wenzel passed Madi Miller's career total of 2,138. Miller, a 2012 MHS graduate, is the school's only three-time national qualifier.

Grimsley added that Raina Grimsley, a freshman, has accumulated 762 points this year, which is the most in a single year in school history.

This weekend, Mitchell will have students participating in Public Forum Debate and Lincoln Douglas Debate, along with four categories of speech: Humorous Interpretation, Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking, Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking, and Original Oratory.

At the state speech and debate meet, each school can bring two entries in each event. Mitchell is competing in Public Forum Debate, Lincoln Douglas Debate, Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking, Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking and Original Oratory.

"We have a really good group that push each other to do their best," Grimsley said. "A lot of them are experienced. Some of them have been in varsity for a long time."

Following is a list of the students participating in the national and state meets.

Northern South Dakota District National Qualifying Contest, Friday and Saturday, in Brookings:

• Public Forum Debate: Luke Bartl and Mason Wenzel; Ryan Solberg and Landon Pooley; Destiny Pinder-Buckley and Kendra Zirpel; Kathleen Thompson and Raina Grimsley.

• Lincoln Douglas Debate: A.J. Krumholz; Isaac Novak.

• Humorous Interpretation: Isaac Novak.

• Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking: Luke Bartl; A.J. Krumholz; Ryan Solberg; Kendra Zirpel.

• Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking: Mason Wenzel; Landon Pooley; Eric Beck; Kathleen Thompson.

• Original Oratory: Aspen Bechen; Destiny Pinder-Buckley; Raina Grimsley.

State Speech and Debate Tournament, March 7-8, in Huron:

• Public Forum Debate: Luke Bartl and Mason Wenzel; Ryan Solberg and Landon Pooley.

• Lincoln Douglas Debate: A.J. Krumholz; Isaac Novak.

• Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking: Luke Bartl; A.J. Krumholz.

• Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking: Mason Wenzel; Ryan Solberg.

• Original Oratory: Destiny Pinder-Buckley; Raina Grimsley.

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