Flathead and Glacier high school speech and debate teams are primed to perform at the Class AA state tournament in Great Falls on Friday and Saturday.
There’s no talking around the fact that the two teams want to return the state title back to the valley. At the 2017 state tournament, Glacier finished second and Flathead third behind the valley’s top rival, Bozeman, which has won the state tournament two consecutive years.
This season, Glacier has basically split first-place tournament wins with Bozeman when competing head-to-head while Flathead has consistently come in third.
“Bozeman and Glacier both have very strong teams and have been neck and neck this year. They are definitely the teams to beat,” said Flathead head coach Shannon O’Donnell.
While Glacier and Flathead recognized the challenge Bozeman will provide, both teams acknowledge the valley’s crosstown rivalry.
“Flathead, which won the other two AA titles in the past decade, is also a darkhorse. I’d never count them down and out — they have the coaches to prepare their students to rebound and compete at the highest levels. They are especially strong in the short prep events and are improving in the interp events,” said Glacier coach Greg Adkins.
Adkins said the season brought balance between speech and debate events.
“That has been a pleasant surprise for this team. We felt like we started the season very strong in the debate events, and the team has developed nicely,” Adkins said.
Experience and leadership is often provided by returning state champions and national qualifiers.
On Glacier’s side, the returning state champions and national qualifier returners include: Izy Lyon, Abigail Roston, Harrison Rennie, Zach Hill, Drew Lorenc, Malea Bauer.
Glacier’s other top contenders are: Delaney Wilson, Aidan Fritz, Matt Knuffke, Keegan Siebenaler, Millie Espeseth, Emmett Van Allen, Kedryn McElderry, Kenzie White, Galvin Ness and Simon Hill.
“Flathead will be strongest in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, as we have done incredibly well in that event all season. Sierra Dilworth has won all but one tournament this season,” O’Donnell said. “I also expect to see strong finishes in Extemp, Impromptu, Original Oratory, Informative and Memorized Public Address.”
Returning state champion Grace Cady is ready to win for Flathead. Two-time national qualifier Noah Love, who finished seventh in the nation last year in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and fellow national qualifier Tristan Phillips are also set to compete.
Other top contenders for Flathead are Sierra Dilworth, Annabelle Pukas, Sienna Riley, Bohdi Hollman, Julia Wynne, Emma Thompson, Carson Robison, Tayler Jakeway, Riley Jochim, and duos Annie Jones and Hunter Driear, Tanis Hadwin and Jonah Love, and Conrad Hedinger and Alex Coulter.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.