News & Notes

Saints’ state speech participants ready for big weekend
Kurt Hildebrandt

Another large contingent of Saint Peter High School Speech team members are gearing up for this Saturday’s Minnesota State Class Speech Tournament as 11 students (nine entries) will make the trek to Apple Valley High School to compete for state medals.

“Mrs. Devetter and I have high hopes for our students,” Saints co-coach Erika Gustafson said. “They have worked so hard to make it this far. We're hoping that having a day to watch AA competitors (on Friday) will get our students pumped and inspired for their competition the next day. I hope to see parents and students there to support our team and watch the best competitors in the state!”

  2018 SPHS state speech qualifiers include: front row (l to r),
  Maansi Bhakta, McKenzie McCann, Josiah Johnson, Rafat 
  Solaiman; back row, Sumeya Ali, Sophia Lee, Isaac Peterson,
  Lauren Mayer, Sammi Hofferbert, Josh Ellerbeck, and Mara 

This marks the third straight season the Saints have sent 10 or more students to the State Speech Tournament as SPHS sent 10 students (eight entries) in 2017 and 12 students (12 entries) in 2016.

Those students competing at state include seniors Rafat Solaiman (Extemporaneous Speaking), Josiah Johnson and Mara Johnson (Duo), Maansi Bhakta (Prose) and Sumeya Ali (Poetry); juniors Lauren Mayer (Drama), Sophia Lee and Isaac Peterson (Duo); and sophomores, Sammi Hofferbert (Great Speeches), Josh Ellerbeck (Humorous), and McKenzie McCann (Storytelling).

The Class A State Speech Tourney schedule at Apple Valley High School is as follows:

  • 9:45 a.m. - First Round
  • 11:45 a.m. - Second Round
  • 1:15 p.m. - Third Round
  • 3:30 p.m. - Championship Finals
  • 5:30 p.m. - Awards

Admission to the Minnesota State Speech Tournament is free and it is open to the public. For more information about the state meet go to

Saint Peter High School has earned 73 state medals in its history, which ranks the Saints in a tie for eighth place with Staples-Motley for all-time state medals won for Class A schools. The Saints have a strong chance to build on that number in 2018.

Saints’ Speech team takes home North Sub-Section title
Kurt Hildebrandt

SPHS to advance 27 entries to Section 2A Tournament here on April 13

Saint Peter High School’s Speech team turned in an impressive showing at the Section 2A, North Sub-Section Tournament on Thursday by rolling to a first-place finish with 232 team points, well ahead of the other schools in the 11-team field.

The Saints speech team with the Sub-Section trophy.

“I am so proud of the effort the team brought to subsections,” SPHS Speech co-coach Erika Gustafson said. “The whole team has worked very hard this season, and unfortunately this was the end of the season for some of our competitors. Win or lose, that night our Saints exuded energy, passion, and professionalism. We look forward to more success at sections on Friday!”

The Saints ended up with eight individuals champions and 27 entries in all qualified for the Section 2A Contest, set for Friday, April 13, here at Saint Peter High School. Those champions included Mikinley Prafke (Creative Expression), Lauren Mayer (Drama), Isaac Peterson & Sophia Lee (Duo); Morgaine Miller (Extemporaneous Reading), Rafat Solaiman (Extemporaneous Speaking), Aubry Landsom (Great Speeches), Maddie Doose (Humorous), and Anders Taylor (Prose).

The following are the results from the North Sub-Section meet:

Team standings (top 5 of 11): 1. ST. PETER 232; 2. Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 72; 3. Minnesota Valley Lutheran 68; 4. Medford 58; 5. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 46.

Saints placewinners
Creative Expression: 1. Mikinley Prafke; 3. Penelope Panciera.
Discussion: 2. Hannah Wohlers; 6. Sarah Busse.
Drama: 1. Lauren Mayer
Duo: 1. Sophia Lee & Isaace Peterson; 2. Mara Johnson & Josiah Johnson; 3. Will Tauer & Kendra Lindquist Ove.
Extemporaneous Reading: 1. Morgaine Miller; 3. Megan Beran.
Extemporaneous Speaking: 1. Rafat Solaiman; 4. Konrad Wernsing.
Great Speeches: 1. Aubry Landsom; 2 Sammi Hofferbert.
Humorous: 1. Maddie Doose; 2. Josh Ellerbeck.
Informative: 4. Rose Prins.
Original Oratory: 2. Vanessa Krueger; 4. Nils Berglund.
Poetry: 3. Sumeya Ali; 4. Nora Leonard 5. Sky Gassman.
Prose: 1. Anders Taylor; 2. Maansi Bhakta; 5. Shelby Beaudoin.
Storytelling: 2. McKenzie McCann; 4. Lily Hughes. Sections Alternate: Lillie Sund

SPHS musicians earn high ratings at Section 2A solo & ensemble contest
Kurt Hildebrandt

Several Saint Peter High School band and choir students took part in the Section 2A Solo and Ensemble Contest at Gustavus Adolphus College on Wednesday, with several Saints earning superior or excellent ratings.

A total of 42 members of the SPHS bands participated in the various ensembles and solos, while 32 members of the SPHS choirs also took part in the contest.

The following are those SPHS musicians/singers who earned high ratings:

Superior Ratings

* Jazz Ensemble 1
* Percussion Ensemble - Liam Dixon, Isaac Peterson, Isabel Panciera, Josiah Johnson, Senia Sanchez, Teagan Weiss, Noah Gassman, Josh Quist & Jaden Neubauer  (The percussion group also was awarded "Best in Site")
* Low Brass Trio - Matthew Springer, Nils Berglund & Josh Ellerbeck
* Woodwind Duet - Anja Dulin & Kylie Grack
* Baritone Saxophone Solo - Mara Johnson

Superior Ratings

Lexi Orth – soprano solo
Sophia Weelborg – soprano solo
Maasi Bhakta – soprano solo
Isabel Panciera - Mezzo soprano solo
Lauren Mayer – mezzo soprano solo
Xandra Zachman – alto solo
Rafat Solaiman – tenor solo
Will Tauer – tenor solo
Kaiden Burmeister – tenor solo
Alex Chadwick – baritone solo
Henry Olson – baritone solo
Isaac Peterson – baritone solo
Isabel and Penelope Panciera - duet
Teagan and Nia Weiss – duet
Womens Choir
Men’s Choir
Chamber Singers

Excellent Ratings

Ashby Rohloff – soprano solo
Kennady Legg – alto solo
Teagan Weiss – alto solo
Momo Abdi – tenor solo
Ashby Rohloff, Kelsey Kampa – duet
Henry Olson & Alex Chadwick – duet
Amelia Wernsing & Marlen Ramirez – duet

Saints' speech team first at JWP, third at Big South meet
Kurt Hildebrandt

It was a busy week for the Saint Peter High School Speech team as the Saints took part in two meets over a three-day span recently. The locals brought home the first place trophy at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton’s Bulldog Invitational on Saturday, just two days after placing third in the always tough Big South Conference meet.

SPHS team with the first place trophy at JWP meet.

Rafat Solaiman (Extemporaneous Speaking) took first in his category at both meets for the Saints while Lauren Mayer (Drama) and Nora Leonard (Poetry) took top honors at the JWP Bulldog Invitational. McKenzie McCann (Storytelling) earned second-place finishes at both meets while other second-place finishers during that span included Isaac Peterson and Sophia Lee (Duo) and Sumeya Ali (Poetry) at the Big South Conference meet.

The Saints tallied 90 team points in winning the JWP Bulldog Invitational, with River Valley 77 and Mankato Loyola 70 the next closest teams. SPHS earned 116 points at the Big South Conference meet, only finishing behind perennial speech powers Marshall (198) and Fairmont (126).  

The following are the SPHS results from the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton and the Big South Conference meets:

Team standings (top 5 of 16) - 1. St. Peter 90; 2. River Valley 77; 3. Mankato Loyola 70; 4. Fairmont 64; 5. Mankato West 46.

(Saints placewinners)
Drama - 1. Lauren Mayer.
Duo - 5. Isaac Peterson & Sophia Lee
Extemporaneous Speaking - 1. Rafat Solaiman.
Great Speeches - 3. Sammi Hofferbert.
Humorous - 5. Servanda Alcantara; finalist: Josh Ellerbeck.
Informative - 5. Eleanor Grinnell, 6. Rose Prins.
Original Oratory - finalist: Vanessa Krueger.
Poetry - 1. Nora Leonard; 3. Sumeya Ali; finalist: Sarah Fadness.
Storytelling - 2. McKenzie McCann.

Team standings (top 5 of 13) - 1. Marshall 198; 2. Fairmont 126; 3. St. Peter 116; 4. Worthington 72; 5. Windom Area 40.

(Saints placewinners)
Creative Expression - 5. Mikinley Prafke; 6. Penelope Panciera.
Drama - 2. Lauren Mayer
Duo - 2. Sophia Lee & Isaac Peterson; 5. Kendra Lindquist Ove & Will Tauer.
Extemporaneous Speaking - 1. Rafat Solaiman
Great Speeches - 3. Aubry Landsom.
Humorous - 5. Josh Ellerbeck.
Informative - 5. Rose Prins.
Poetry - 2. Sumeya Ali; 5. Nora Leonard; 6. Sky Gassman.
Prose - 5. Anders Taylor.
Storytelling - 2. Mckenzie McCann.


To follow the progress of the SPHS Speech team during the season go to for complete results.


SPHS speakers first at Sibley East; second at Medford
Kurt Hildebrandt

It was another successful two-week stretch for the Saint Pete High School Speech team, which took home top team honors at the Sibley East Invitational on March 10 and second at Medford Invitational on March 3.

The Saint Speech team with the first-place trophy 
after the Sibley East meet.

The Saints’ Nora Leonard took home first-place honors at both meets in Poetry as did the SPHS tandem of Isaac Peterson and Sophia Lee in Duo. Lauren Mayer placed first in Drama at Medford and second in the same category at Sibley East, while Josh Ellerbeck placed first in Humorous at Sibley East and second at Medford.

The following are the results from the SPHS Speech team’s meets at Medford and Sibley East:

Team standings (top 5 of 13) - 1. St. Peter 141; 2. Jordan 106; 3. Windom ARea 99; 4. Norwood-Young America (44); 5. Minnesota Valley Lutheran 36.
(Saints placewinners)
Creative Expression - 1. Penelope Panciera; 2. Mikinley Prafke; 6. Amelia Hildebrandt.
Drama - 2. Lauren Mayer.
Duo - 1. Isaac Peterson & Sophia Lee; Breeley Ruble & Megan Beran.
Extemporaneous Reading - 2. Morgaine Miller.
Extemporaneous Speaking - 1. Konrad Wernsing.
Great Speeches - 3. Aubry Landsom.
Discussion - 3. Sarah Busse.
Humorous - 1. Josh Ellerbeck.
Informative - 1. Eleanor Grinnell; 4. Rose Prins.
Original Oratory - 4. Vanessa Krueger; 6. Nils Berglund.
Poetry - 1. Nora Leonard; 5. Sky Gassman.
Prose - 4. Anders Taylor.
Storytelling - 6. McKenzie McCann; finalist - Liliana Hughes.

Team standings (top 5) - 1. Winona Cotter 127; 2. St. Peter 99; 3. Mankato Loyola 52; 4. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 25; 5. Medford 24.
(Saints placewinners)
Creative Expression - 3. Mikinley Prafke; 5. Penelope Panciera.
Drama - 1. Lauren Mayer
Duo - 1. Sophia Lee & Isaac Peterson; 2. Josiah Johnson & Mara Johnson.
Extemporaneous Reading - 6. Megan Beran.
Extemporaneous Speaking - 2. Rafat Solaiman; 4. Konrad Wernsing.
Great Speeches - 1. Sammi Hofferbert; 6. Aubry Landsom.
Humorous - 2. Josh Ellerbeck.
Informative - 4. Eleanor Grinnell.
Poetry - 1. Nora Leonard; 2. Sky Gassman; 3. Sumeya Ali; 4. Sarah Fadness.
Prose - 6. Anders Taylor.
Storytelling - 4. Mckenzie McCann.

To follow the progress of the SPHS Speech team during the season go to for complete results.