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District 196 students and schools earn national speech and debate honors at 2021 tournament

Two District 196 students won a national championship and Apple Valley, Eagan and Eastview high schools all won top team honors at this year’s National Speech and Debate Association national tournament, which was held online June 13-19.

Jonah Johnson and Frank Knier of Apple Valley are national champions in live duo interpretation, and Hanna Olson and Thor Reimann of Eastview were runners-up. They are among the 13 District 196 students who advanced to the final round of competition (top six) in their category. Third-place finishes went to Alice Hovendon and Colin Roberts of Eagan in dramatic duo asynchronous, Ella Erdahl of Eastview in humorous interpretation and, for the third year in a row, Cecelia Voss of Apple Valley took third place at the national tournament in informative speaking. Archan Sen of Eagan placed fourth in big question debate, and fifth-place finishes went to Lydia Voss of Apple Valley in program oral interpretation; Claudia Liverseed and Aerin Engelstad of Eagan in policy debate, and Akansha Kamineni of Eastview in storytelling.

Apple Valley, Eagan and Eastview were three of the 10 Schools of Outstanding Distinction in Speech and Debate in this year’s national tournament, based on the number of rounds of competition their students completed during the tournament.

A total of 45 District 196 students qualified for this year’s national tournament, including 14 from Eastview, 16 from Eagan, 11 from Apple Valley and four from Rosemount High School. In addition to the 13 finalists listed above, 26 others advanced to the elimination rounds. Semifinalists include Heden Abdulahi of Eagan, seventh place speaker in policy debate; Allison Hering of Eastview, eighth place in international extemporaneous speaking; Maria Michaelson of Apple Valley, ninth place in program oral interpretation; Vikash Giritharan and Faye Zhang of Eastview, 10th and 11th place, respectively, in U.S. extemporaneous speaking; Sophie Todaro of Apple Valley, 12th place in humorous interpretation; Flynn Gray of Eagan, 14th place in expository speaking, and Elise Noonan of Eastview in congressional debate. Speech quarterfinalists are De’Marco Walton and Cooper Roberts of Apple Valley; Trinh Nguyen, James Eiden and Kai Wilson of Eagan, and Rhea Rajvansh and Morgan Oksendahl of Eastview. Speech octofinalists (top 60) are Morgen Allen of Apple Valley,  Evelyn Gore, Kai Wilson and Audrey Schwartz of Eagan, Akshara Molleti and Erdahl of Eastview, and Hermela Solomon of Rosemount. Other students advancing to elimination rounds in policy debate were Abdulahi and Saanvi Malhotra of Eagan, and Niko Jackson and Kate Nozal of Rosemount, and in public forum debate were Isaiah Dalzell and Izhan Qureishy of Eastview.

The Voss family pose with their speech and debate trophies.

The Voss family celebrating Apple Valley High School's performance at the national tournament. From left, Scott, Lydia (16), Cecelia (18) and Tzitel. Both Scott and Tzitel teach speech and coach speech and debate at AVHS.