The Columbia Falls speech and debate team opened its season with a victory in Stevensville, outpacing rival Whitefish by 114 points to open the season.
The Wildcats were up against 13 other Class A schools.
The Columbia Falls team is coming off of 12 straight State Class A championships, and fielded another strong team to start the year. Thirty-one students from all four classes traveled to Stevi, and competed in all seven speech and all three debate events.
The speech and debate program at Columbia Falls has a powerful history, garnering a total of 19 State Class A titles overall, with the last dozen consecutive.
A new round of strong freshman contenders has injected some additional energy into an already well-honed team, and they placed across the board in all events, said head coach Tara Norick.
Norick attributed the team’s ongoing success to this breadth of talent and ages.
“We are so excited for this season. We have an experienced upperclassmen team, with 11 seniors and five juniors, and this year we have a great influx of freshmen who are eager and gifted,” she said.
In Stevi, seven of the freshmen ended up on stage taking awards across six different events.
Speakers and debaters placed in every event in the competition, with several first and second place spots.
Jordyn King took first place honors in Memorized Public Address, as well as garnering second place in Dramatic Interpretation. In the Public Forum team debate category, Columbia Falls mounted a sweep of the top three spots, with the finals round a match-up between two Columbia Falls teams — Cassidy Norick and Kelsey Wright versus Laney Conger and Maggie McKeon. Norick and Wright landed the victory.
The team has a busy season ahead of them, with tournaments on six of the next eight weekends.
The season culminates in divisionals on Jan. 20 in Ronan, and the state tournament on Jan. 25-26 in Corvallis. Columbia Falls will host their home tournament on Jan. 5-6.
This Saturday the competition heats up, with the first AA hosted tournament of the season at Flathead High in Kalispell. They are expecting teams from at least 22 schools and several hundred competitors.
“It’s great to start the season with the Stevensville meet, where we can cut our teeth a bit at a smaller competition and get ready for the heavy hitters in Kalispell, and the following weekend in Bozeman. AA meets are an entirely different beast, but we are looking forward to carrying this momentum forward,” Norick said.
4th Ella Hutcheson and Ian McKenzie
9th Calie Jo Johnson and Tre Finley
Public Forum Debate:
1st Cassidy Norick and Kelsey Wright
2nd Laney Conger and Maggie McKeon
3rd Lara Erickson and Jesse Rusche
5th Gabby Merrell
9th Logan Harvey
7th Sam Lovering
8th Madeline Jarvis
3rd Noah Golan
5th Sam Lovering
8th Madeline Jarvis
Humorous Oral Interpretation:
3rd Ave’ McDonald
2nd Jordyn King
6th Ave’ McDonald
Memorized Public Address:
1st Jordyn King
2nd Emmalee Hellen
2nd Kennedy Payne
3rd Paige Moriarty
7th Danielle Rosenbaum