CHEROKEE, Iowa | Ben Lingenfelter made some news locally last week in announcing he'd walk-on to the football program at Nebraska, the sixth in a line of family members who have played collegiate football with the Cornhuskers.
Well, my introduction to the senior at Washington High School in Cherokee came not on the football field, but the stage, where Lingenfelter earned all-state accolades in group improvisation, a speech category that isn't for the faint of heart.
The Iowa High School Speech Association released names of entries on the 2017 large-group all-state list on Monday afternoon. Look to siouxcityjournal.com and at the Journal on Wednesday for the complete list.
One year ago, Lingenfelter, an all-stater on the gridiron teamed up with Braden Clyde, Caleb Claycamp and Kyle Johnson in preparing a 5-minute sketch in just 2 minutes. Those participating in Group Improvisation, draw a situation from a hat and take 120 seconds to devise a skit before playing it out before an audience and a panel of three judges.
"I'd never been in a play, other than something like one at an elementary school Christmas program," Lingenfelter told me on a day last February when I watched his quartet perform before the student body.
Claycamp and Clyde, teammates of Lingenfelter on the football field, more or less TOLD him he'd be joining their group as the speech season began.
One year ago, 24 Group Improvisation acts were awarded all-state recognition. That's a small slice of the 800 Group Improvisation groups that began when the large-group speech season commenced.