SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan Area High School speech team came away with top honors this past weekend in the statewide speech tournament sponsored by the Maine Forensic Association.

Taylor Kruse, a senior from Norridgewock, who was awarded the Richard Mullen Excellence in Speech scholarship, said the events are broken down into three categories — speech, congress and debate.

Skowhegan, with its nine-person team, participated only in the speech portion of the tournament, which includes up to 13 categories, and took first place. Emma York, one of the team’s captains who participated throughout the season, was unable to attend the tournament.

“You have kids from all over the state of Maine come and enter into different categories of speech,” Kruse said. “It’s very stressful, very nerve-wracking. You have to do your piece four different times to win anything.”

Kruse, who played the starring role earlier this winter in the high school drama team’s production of “Don Quixote,” said he participated in the category called humorous interpretation — doing a “funny piece,” he said — for which he took first place. He also competed in the category called informative speaking, for which he got second place.

Other categories in speech include persuasive essay and a partner category. Each student can enter two different categories, Kruse said.

“We won what they call ‘sweeps,’ the sweepstakes for speech,” he said. “Each of our kids, who either gets fifth through first, they each get a point value. They combine our total score, and whoever has the highest scores wins the sweeps for speech. We won the whole sweeps speech.”

Kruse — who Maura Smith, the high school’s theater and speech director, said will be attending Harvard University next year — said the events are grueling and tense with heavy competition.

“It was really incredible,” he said. “We were very nervous, because we always felt pretty competitive. But we only came with nine people, and that’s pretty small because our competitors had a lot more people than we did. So it was very much a surprise that we ended up winning.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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