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C-Falls aims for a 14th consecutive state speech title

January 25, 2019

Columbia Falls Speech and Debate is on a quest to continue its reign as the Class A state champion.

If the team wins the state tournament, held today and Saturday in Belgrade, it will mark a 14th consecutive win. Columbia Falls will once again go face-to-face with Whitefish High School Speech and Debate, which is riding on the momentum of its recent win at divisionals and was runner-up at a tight 2018 state competition.

Columbia Falls Head Coach Tara Norick noted the season has been a rebuilding year for the young team, but progress has been made.

“We have a young team who is working hard and we have made steady progress as the season has continued. We have more speech students double-entered than usual, so they have had to learn two events during the season,” Norick said.

The team has been known to dominate in all things debate and Norick anticipates a strong performance in Policy and Public Forum debate.

“Policy and Public Forum debate both have returning debate teams that placed at state last year and have been strong all season. In speech, Oratory and Memorized Public Address are our stronger events,” Norick said.

Columbia Falls’ top contenders include 2018 Original Oratory state champion Paige Moriarty, who is also set to compete in Impromptu Speaking; Cassidy Norick and Kelsey Wright in Public Forum; divisional champions Ian McKenzie and Maggie McKeon in Policy Debate; Haileigh Bayee in Original Oratory and Memorized Public Address; Emmalee Hellen in Memorized Public Address and Dramatic Interpretation; and Sam Lovering in Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking.

“The students have worked hard to meet the challenges of the season and have grown close as a team. I am very proud of the work they have all put in to be ready for the state tournament. We have tough competition from Whitefish and Laurel and I know our team will put their best effort forward in Belgrade,” Norick said.

Whitefish is rallying for another major win.

“We gelled within the last few weeks of season. I knew we were individually strong, but we became a team in January,” Whitefish Head Coach Sara Mueller said. “We had strong internal leadership as students worked together while coaches prepared to host the divisional tournament. Our debate side progressed into a competitive group throughout the season.”

Strong performances are anticipated from 2018 state champions Naya Brigette in Dramatic Interpretation and Mary Hooks in Public Forum Debate. Hooks and debate partner Andrew Brozek were the divisional champion in Public Forum Debate.

Mueller also expects the team will derive strength from divisional champions - Abigail Bowden, Extemporaneous Speaking; Danika Tintzman, Humorous Interpretation; and Grace Benkelman, Memorized Public Address.

Mueller also noted Regan Tintzman, in Impromptu Speaking, and Aidan Reid and Libby Goldhirsch in Original Oratory, who also placed in the top spots at divisionals.

“We expect to be the strongest in Informative Speaking where we placed first, second, and fourth at divisionals with Elizabeth Campbell, Bethany Barnes and Regan Tintzman,” Mueller said.

Bigfork Speech and Debate is ready to roll in Three Forks for the Class B-C state tournament following its 10th consecutive win at divisionals.

Bigfork placed second at the 2018 state tournament.

“We are quite strong in the memorized events, boasting six competitors in those three events, with divisional champs in Informative and MPA (Memorized Public Address),” Bigfork Head Coach Charlie Appleby noted.

Bigfork’s top contenders include: two-time state champion and divisional champion Anya Young in Informative Speaking; divisional champion Maya Hartig in Memorized Public Address; divisional champions Elyse Pendlay and Anton Young in Policy Debate; Kristen Hutz in Extemporaneous Speaking and Liz Hyde in Original Oratory.

Appleby summed up the season, “We have all gotten better individually, including me as a coach. It’s been a great season because our team is quite small and we have been able to spend more time individually with each competitor.”

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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