Team jubilant with 9th district win
Swedes break away from Minden to win by 18
The pressure was on for the Swede speech team when competitors headed for Minden on March 13 for district B-5 competition.
Nerves were jangled but the team need not have worried. Once results were announced, the Swedes realized they’d swept the competition by 18 points.Gothenburg finished with 136 points compared to runner-up Minden with 118 points. Aurora, with 93 points, was a distant third.
Other schools, and their point totals, included: Broken Bow, 87; Cozad, 73; Adams Central, 63; Holdrege, 55; and Central City, 27.
The win is the ninth time the Swedes have taken home the sweepstakes plaque since advisor Dan Jensen began coaching the team in 1996.
It’s the fifth straight time the Swedes have pulled off a district win.
The road to winning was not easy, even though the Swedes captured the Southwest Conference crown this season and won the sweepstakes plaque in every meet it was offered.
During regular season, competitors spend several hours a week just in practice, not to mention the time they devote to writing, changing and rehearsing speeches on their own.
Practice time was increased even more in the days before district competition.
Senior Jeramie VanAcker said the team spent lots of time in practice.
“We had to practice Sunday during spring break and then on Monday.”
Sophomore Carlin Daharsh said they would practice with a variety of coaches, to get unique viewpoints and help in different areas of their speeches.
Although the Swedes had prepared as well as they could, they still faced challenges once they arrived in Minden.
According to senior Mac-kenzie Brand, there were a lot of schools in the district they hadn’t competed against in the Southwest Conference.
As a result, the team didn’t know the material and ability of some of the teams.
For junior Madison Costello, the challenge was “just the fact it was districts.”
Not only was it a mind game, but it was also hard for the Swedes to compete against friends from different schools.
Daharsh said: “You want to beat them but at the same time, you want to see them go (to state) as well.”
Costello noted there’s much tension when fourth place is announced (medals are awarded, starting with sixth place) since only the top three are eligible to compete at state.
“They take a long pause between fourth and third, just to freak you out,” she said.
After learning that the Swedes won districts, Costello said it felt like a huge weight was lifted from their shoulders.
VanAcker said he was really happy.
“This is my first time going to state in two events,” he said. “It was cool.”
In all, the Swedes qualified 13 students in 11 events.
VanAcker took home gold in both serious prose and duet acting with Makayla Franzen.
Franzen was also a dual winner when she finished first in humorous prose, followed by teammate Josh Clark in second place.
Daharsh swept the competition in informative speaking, in which teammate Costello finished third.
Costello also qualified in persuasive speaking with a third-place finish.
Other second-place qualifiers were Carson Messersmith in extemporaneous speaking and Ryan Ostendorf in entertainment speaking.
The duet-acting team of Carlie Stevens and Kayla Trevino also qualified for state with third place in duet acting as did the oral interpretation of drama team.
Team members are Stevens, Brand, Alyssa Salem, Amanda Larson and Morgan Kowalewski.
Since districts, the Swedes have set their sights on winning state Thursday at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Three words Jensen wants his team to keep in mind are: “Confidence. Focus. Winners.”
A couple of Swede seniors offered advice to those who will compete at state for the first time.
“Go in with confidence,” VanAcker said, “but not cockiness.”
Brand encouraged the state team to keep working hard and to set high goals.
“If you’re going to make it to state, you have to do something at state,” she said.