Three advance to state speech


For the first time in more than 20 years, three Maple Lake High School students are advancing to the state speech meet.
At the Region 5 section meet over the weekend in Melrose, junior Charlie Stejskal was section champion in extemporaneous speaking, sophomore Dylan Schlueter was the section champion in discussion and junior Maddie Nelson took second place behind him in that category.
This will be Stejskal’s second appearance at state, after advancing as a freshman and missing the cut by one place a year ago.
“When I went in ninth grade, my jaw dropped because I didn’t expect it,” Stejskal said. “Since then, it’s been my goal to get back to state, so it’s a bigger deal to prove it wasn’t a fluke and that I deserve to compete at this level. There’s a little more pressure, especially since I was section champion this year.”
Nelson is also feeling some pressure, albeit for different reasons.
“It’s a big deal to me because it’s my first time going to state,” Nelson said. “My sister, Lauren, set a record a couple years ago. There’s competition because she went and my boyfriend from another school is going. This is a big step for me. I’ve been in it since seventh grade and have liked it since.”
After putting pressure on himself at the section level last year, Schlueter is taking a slightly different approach.
“I just want to show up,” Schlueter said, inciting laughter from his teammates and coach Eric Meyer. “Last year, I set a goal and didn’t reach it, so I just want to do my best.”
Meyer is impressed with the amount of effort his team has put forward.
“We’ve done really well,” Meyer said of the team that sent eight competitors to the section meet. “We’re still super young and not as big as other schools, but we’re still sending three to state. It shows their commitment and the time they’ve put into it.”
The students’ descriptions of their categories show how much work is required.
“In discussion, we sit at a table with eight people,” Nelson said. “For the whole year, we’re given one topic. This year, it’s U.S. infrastructure and the problems with it. There are three subcategories: social, political and economical. It takes a lot of research time and it requires a lot of consensus building.”