Published On: Wed, Mar 29th, 2017

Bringing home the Gold

KEARNEY — A coin toss.
That’s how the NSAA decided who brought the Class D1 Speech state trophy home between Wausa and Humphrey.
At the end of the day, both teams were tied at 128 points. Osceola finished third with 64 points.
Wausa head coach Kyle Stevens was given the choice of “Heads or Tails” to decide which school would go home with the hardware.
Never one to take the conventional way out, he actually chose a third option and deferred, letting the other team decide.
They called heads. It was tails and Wausa got to bring the trophy home that night. Humphrey will receive their trophy in the mail.
“It felt like a football game,” said Stevens. “We were shown both sides of the quarter and I guess tails never fails because we got to bring home the trophy.”
Eight of the 17 competitors from Wausa made it to the finals where they earned their 128 points.
Out of those eight, they received one first place, four second places, a third place, and two sixth place finishes.
Luc Bloomquist won the first place finish in Entertainment Speaking, and was even asked to participate with the NSAA’s Best of the Best list.
“[Superintendent] Brad Hoesing was sitting behind me during the last event, and I did the math in my head that there could be a tie,” said Stevens. “Hoesing texted me ‘TIE?!’ after the round was finished. It caught us both, and then later everyone, by surprise.”
It truly is surprising considering that the last time there were co-champions was in 1995. That was in Class B between Raymond Central and Holdrege. Those are the only two times that champions have tied in any class, but there have been ties for runner up before.
The tie gives Wausa its fourth consecutive state title in speech competition. Stevens has been a teacher and coach at Wausa for five years.
“Overall, our kids competed hard all day long and did a great job putting out great performances in each round,” Stevens said. “I am so very proud of this group of kids, and the way they responded to pressure in a competitive environment. I am also proud of this entire team, and the way they competed all season. We had another great season, and I think that is because these kids are committed to working hard to be their best.”
Stevens said the winning streak, and the pressure that puts on kids, makes competing even more difficult.
“There is a lot of pressure on these kids,” said Stevens. “The awards and medals are great but that is not what I am concerned about as their coach. I just want them to perform their best and give their all to something they have committed to.”
Stevens says that everything he has learned about how to be a coach comes from when he competed as a student at Hartington High School under coach A.J. Johnson.
“I think it is a coach’s job to find a way that works for them, get the students to buy into it, and then get out of their way and let them run with it,” said Stevens. “I find just as much pride in helping a student perfect their speech for a state championship as I do with helping a student conquer a fear of public speaking.”
Stevens even gave an example to the level of commitment his students have by saying that after their long drive back from Kearney on Friday night that there were students awake at dawn on Saturday to go compete in Quiz Bowl up in Yankton.
“At one point at the state competition I just sat back and said ‘Wow!’ to myself,” said Stevens. “And that isn’t from winning a trophy. It’s the level of commitment that these students have at everything they do. I think that’s what it is for me.”
The Vikings put eight entries into finals. The final results are listed below:

Luc Bloomqust—State Champion Entertainment
Regan Hennings—Second place Entertainment
Mary Johnson—Second place Persuasive
Tom Lundberg—Second place Extemporaneous
Regan Hennings, Hannah Nelson, Michaela Timmerman, Claire Wiegert, and Paige Nissen—Second place Oral Interpretation of Drama
Hannah Nelson—Third place Humorous
Kara Seagren—Sixth place Informative

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