If Grant Goodlet was a baseball player, he'd be batting 1,000. As a performer, he'd be pronounced a quadruple threat. If his high school career was a hockey game, he'd have the forensics version of a hat trick, plus one.

This spring, the senior became the first Northwestern High School student in more than two decades to earn the highest possible score - a critic's choice, or gold medal - at state speech competition all four years of high school.

He didn't just play to his strengths. Goodlet brought home gold in four different categories. His freshman year, he performed a poetry reading of Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree." He followed that up with a four-minute speech on a personal topic, his diagnosis of lupus, as a sophomore.

As a junior, Goodlet created an amalgam of readings on the theme of friendship for the farrago category. The final gold was the biggest challenge.

"I think this year I put in a lot more work than all my other three years combined," Goodlet said. He practiced every day, even during a trip to Hawaii with the NHS choir.

The senior took a sly twist on a special occasion speech. He compiled speeches from politicians and generals to form a speech rallying listeners to tackle an unnamed infestation. Only in the last sentence did the teen reveal that his character was a father recruiting his children to clean the bathroom.

"He took a big chance with it," said forensics coach Mike Goodlet, Grant's father.

The humorous twist nearly backfired at district competition when one judge didn't get the joke. But the others did, and Grant Goodlet made it to state for his fourth gold medal.

It was a lot of work, but the graduating senior said he had a lot of fun. Forensics, he said, is worth it.

"If you don't like public speaking, I encourage a lot of people to at least give it a shot and see what could happen," Grant said. "They have said that 'I am a person that goes into sports. I don't excel in speaking; I don't do that,' but they do it anyway and they come back for another year."

This year, 35 NHS students took part in forensics. Of their 24 entries, 22 advanced to state competition.

"I think part of it is from the older kids setting the example," Mike said.

Speech offers options for everybody. There are categories where you read the words of others, and categories where you write your own.

"You don't have to do it alone. You can do it with a group of friends or just go at it alone and just practice. It doesn't matter. And that's the joy of forensics," Grant said.

When he graduates May 24, the communication skills he learned from forensics will follow him.

"It's a life skill and a lifelong skill," Mike said. "There's always an opportunity for us to speak publicly or to speak in small groups, and if you've gotten that little boost from forensics and had fun along the way, it will last."

SIDEBAR:

State forensics results

Many of the NHS forensics team members who attended state competition in Madison brought home gold:

• Myranda Breezee, Lita Lind, Amanda Lumberg and Journey Amundson, group interpretation;

• Brianna Ackerson, Lily Cain, Josie Maki and Hannah Nelson, group interpretation;

• Holly Klomhaus and Morgan Hursh, group interpretation;

• Justin Orme, Adam Thom, Ted Kyle and Olivia Kalin, play acting;

• Sami Keller and Ariel Rutten, play acting;

• Jonson Dillard, poetry;

• Calyndria Johnson, poetry;

• Tiana Hursh, prose;

• Nia Albright, prose;

• Heidi Paulson, solo acting, humorous; and

• Grant Goodlet, special occasion.

Earning silver:

• Jocelyn Luostari, informative;

• Kylie Burhans, poetry; and

• Ashley Olson, prose.

Earning bronze:

• Emily Taylor, farrago;

• Erin Germano, oratory;

• Isabella Magerl, poetry;

• Alyssa Smith, prose;

• Shelby Tenney, solo acting, humorous;

• Nathaniel Fechtelkotter, solo acting, serious; and

• Jade Dillard, storytelling.