There’s a lot of talk going on in Flathead and Glacier high schools as the two Class AA speech and debate teams start the season with a total of 290 students.
Following a second- and third-place finish at last year’s state tournament, Glacier and Flathead are confident they will maintain positions in the top three Class AA teams, but are driven to return the state title to Kalispell. The team to beat this year — besides each other — is Bozeman, which has won the state title the past two years. Flathead held the coveted championship in 2015 and Glacier from 2011 to 2014.
There are several events that Glacier head coach Greg Adkins, and Flathead head coach Shannon O’Donnell believe will help each respective team climb to the top.
O’Donnell anticipates Flathead will excel in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking, Original Oratory and Informative Speaking.
“After the youth of last season’s team, we are working to strengthen the numbers and abilities of this year’s competitors. We are working to build the strength of our debate squads,” O’Donnell said.
This season, Adkins sees Glacier’s strength in debate events, namely Public Forum Debate, Policy Debate and Legislative Debate.
“We have a bunch of returners who should really excel in these events. Traditionally we have been strong in memorized events and interp, and while we are reloading a bit, I am optimistic that these events will be our strength by January,” he said.
Both teams will get a boost from returning state champions and national qualifiers.
Glacier Wolfpack returners include Duo Interpretation state champion Zach Hill and national qualifiers Malea Bauer, Policy Debate; Drew Lorenc, Duo Interpretation and Humorous Interpretation; Izy Lyon, Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Harrison Rennie, Policy Debate; and Abigail Roston, Legislative Debate.
Returning to the Flathead Braves is Impromptu Speaking state champion Grace Cady and national qualifiers Noah Love and Tristan Phillips. At nationals, Love finished seventh in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Phillips in the top 20 in Informative Speaking. Original Oratory national qualifiers Emma Thompson and senior Rebecca Vance also qualified.
Adkins and O’Donnell listed the top 10 individuals or duos to watch this season with some difficulty, considering the size of both teams.
On Glacier this includes: Keegan Siebenaler and Millie Espeseth, Public Forum Debate; Lorenc and Hill, Duo Interpretation and Humorous Interpretation; Bauer and Rennie, Policy Debate; Roston, Legislative Debate; Jenna McCrorie and Emmett Van Allen, Public Forum Debate; Emma Trunkle and Jon Sorenson, Policy Debate; Trevor Woodward, Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking; Aidan Fritz, Memorized Public Address and Original Oratory; Matt Knuffke and Memorized Public Address and Dramatic Interpretation; and Lyon, Lincoln-Douglas Debate.
On Flathead this includes: Vance, Original Oratory; Noah Love, Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu Speaking; Cady, Impromptu Speaking and Original Oratory; Phillips, Informative Speaking; Sierra Dilworth, Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Tanis Hadwin and Jonah Love, Duo Interpretation; Sienna Riley, Impromptu Speaking and Informative Speaking; Reed Miller, Extemporaneous Speaking; Annabelle Pukas and Lilly Briney, Public Forum Debate; and Moriah Schutt in Dramatic Interpretation.
Cultivating new talent is also a priority in shaping future competition.
“How quickly we become competitive will rely greatly on both the ability of our returners to progress to the next level and for our newcomers to figure out this activity,” Adkins said.
While it is early in the season, up-and-coming smooth talkers at Flathead are: Carson Robison, Dawson Lemay, Eva Bruce, Alix Major, Bohdi Hollman, Sarabeth Rogge and Lucas Coulter.
“I think we are poised for a good season,” O’Donnell said.
Adkins noted some newcomers who made it to the first varsity tournament of the season recently were Joe Schlegel, Simon Roston, Taylor Fortin, Dresden Allred and Nathan Gironda.
The teams will compete at the Kalispell Kickoff starting at 8 a.m. today at Flathead High School.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.