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Havre speaker wins at division tournament

School takes fifth in team sweeps, all Blue Ponies going to state


January 23, 2017

Press release

Although it had one of the smallest teams at the tournament, Havre saw success at the Class A eastern divisional tournament in Havre Saturday, with a speaker earning a divisional championship medal, Havre speakers earning enough points to beat six schools in the team sweepstakes race and all seven Blue Pony speakers earning a trip to state.

“This was great,” Havre head coach Tim Leeds said. “I love it when our entire team gets to go to state.

“Our kids seem to be peaking at the right time,” Leeds added. “I have great hopes for their performance in Laurel this weekend.”

The school broke speech, debate and drama competition into two super-divisionals last year, with 11 eastern Class A schools including Havre competing at the tournament. The top 12 in each event qualify for state, held this Friday and Saturday in Laurel. The top eight in each field earn a divisional medal.

Continuing to dominate his field in dramatic oral interpretation of literature was Havre senior Ethan Smith, competing in a field of 15 speakers. Smith earned two perfect marks — and one low mark from a second-round judge — in the elimination rounds and broke into the semifinals round in second place.

Smith earned two first-place and one second-place rank in semifinals, putting him into finals in first place. He repeated those scores in finals to earn a solid divisional championship and received a first-place medal.

Havre’s debate squad also continued its winning ways, with all three Blue Pony debaters earning a trip to Laurel in a highly competitive field with 17 Lincoln-Douglas debaters fighting to qualify.

Veteran Blue Pony debater Trenton Smith, a senior, beat debaters from Belgrade and Billings Central in the first two rounds, before falling in a close debate to a Laurel competitor third round. He came back in the fourth round to defeat a Sidney debater and ended up with a third-place medal.

Junior Johnny Valadez, who switched to debate part way through this season after competing in impromptu for Havre for two-and-a-half years, also won his first two rounds. Valadez defeated debaters from Billings Central Catholic High School and Sidney before falling to a Laurel debater in the third round. He came back to win his fourth round, competitor’s school not listed, taking fourth and earning a medal at divisionals.

Second-year Havre debater Kaleb Gardner, a sophomore, lost to a Laurel debater first round, then came back to defeat a Fergus County High School debater from Lewistown the second round. He lost to a Sidney debater the third round, but defeated another Sidney competitor the fourth round to qualify for state in 11th place.

First-year Havre speakers Brady Ophus, a junior, and Jayne Nelson, a sophomore, also beat out competitors in the impromptu speaking category to earn a trip to Laurel. Both broke into semifinals. Nelson earned an 11th-place finish and Ophus took 12th.

Third-year veteran Blue Pony Jesse Riska also beat opponents on her way to state, earning an 11th-place finish at divisionals.

Leeds said he was very happy with how the tournament went from a tournament director’s viewpoint, as well.

Montana State University-Northern, which is the location for this weekend’s Class BC state tournament hosted this coming weekend by Chinook High School, allowed Havre High to host the divisional tournament on its campus.

“I can’t say enough how the community came together, as it always does, to allow us to put on this tournament,” Leeds said. “I received a bunch of compliments from coaches about how the tournament ran, despite some hiccups at the beginning and throughout the competition, which always seems to happen.

“I have nothing but compliments for how Northern helped us run the tournament,” Leeds added, “Their help was flawless. And the entire community made it a success, with hundreds of hours volunteered by local judges, the (Havre Area) Chamber (of Commerce) welcoming the visitors with open arms, and the entire community helping us out.”

The Havre team leaves Thursday to compete at the Class A state tournament in Billings.

Leeds said people who want to find out more about the Class BC state tournament in Havre at Northern next week could visit the tournament’s State BC Speech and Drama 2017 Facebook page at facebook.com/state2017.


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