Laporte High School had one happy speaker at the Minnesota State Class A Speech Meet Friday at Wayzata High School.
Hannah Kahlstorf of the Wildcat Speech Team was crowned champion in the Great Speakers category.
Kahlstorf was one of 24 Great Speakers state-wide to earn a place at the meet. She was ranked first in each of her three preliminary rounds at Wayzata High School and in the Great Speeches final she was scored the clear winner by the five judges.
Surprisingly, she was competing against her cousin, Anna Kahlstorf, in the Great Speeches final for the second year in a row. Anna, Kahlstorf of Eden Valley-Watkins, won the third place medal, two places behind her cousin.
“They were counting down and after my Blackduck friend Nolan Juelson took fifth place I thought, ‘Well, this is it! I’m in the top four.’ Then they announced my cousin in third and then they announced the second-place winner and I realized that, by process of elimination, I was the State champion! Then I freaked out and I thought, ‘I’m sure my dad is quaking in his seat right now.’ I was immensely happy and proud of myself.”
Kahlstorf has been in the Laporte Speech Program since the seventh-grade. She won first place in Creative Expression at subsection competition that year, and then went on to compete in Serious Prose and Humor before finding her true niche in Great Speeches.
As a sophomore, she made it to State for the first time, and then as junior she earned a spot at State again where she placed in the final round and received a third-place medal — the first time a Laporte Speaker had medaled at state in over three decades.
Kahlstorf is only the second State champion from Laporte and she says she has had a message of congratulations from Laporte’s first and only other State champion — Scott Lyons, who won in the category of Creative Expression in 1983. Lyons is now a professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without speech,” said Kahlstorf, who attributes her success wholeheartedly to her longtime coach, Bev Jorland. “She is an amazing coach and an amazing person. I’m so grateful for all the hard work and dedication that she has put into me as an individual. And I’m thankful for my parents always getting me to practice and Laporte School for the endless support everyone there has given me.”
Kahlstorf says that speech has taught her a great deal. “How to be competitive and respectful at the same time and that the only person I can blame is myself for how hard I worked. I’m in charge of my own success. It’s taught me self-discipline in a healthy way.”
The Laporte senior is planning on attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth where she will pursue a major in mass communications and public relations.