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Havre speakers qualify as alternates to national tournament


February 17, 2020

Press release

The Havre High School speech and debate team took a small squad to national qualifiers in Billings over the weekend, with some top-end results by the end of the tournament.

Havre had one student qualify as a first alternate to the national tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in June, one as third alternate and another as fourth alternate.

Havre also was recognized at the awards assembly as the third-place finisher in one of the team categories.

"This was a really impressive finish to the end of the season," head coach Tim Leeds said. "It would have been nice to take a team to Albuquerque this summer, but this young team was up against the top competitors from the east, and their placings showed we are also in the top level.

"This is the most students we have had earn a place on stage for the awards assembly at national qualifiers in several years, so I am very pleased and looking forward to seeing where it takes us next year," Leeds added.

This was the first year Montana split into two districts for the national qualifier tournaments. National Speech and Debate Association holds the national tournament each year, rotating to different cities in the U.S.

In an effort to reduce travel and encourage new schools to join the association and compete, Montana was split into east and west divisions this year in which to hold qualifying tournaments.

The tournaments see students and schools competing in all classes for earning a berth at nationals and in team sweepstakes points.

Havre faced students from Class AA schools Great Falls High, C.M. Russell High School, Billings West, Billings Central, Billings Skyview and Belgrade High School.

Class A rivals Sidney, Dawson County High School from Glendive, Custer County District High School in Miles City, Laurel High School, Billings Central High School and Fergus County High School in Lewistown brought teams, as did BC powerhouses Shepherd High School, Three Forks High School and Great Falls Central High School.

The teams including Havre brought a total of 207 entries, requiring more than 600 hours of judging from volunteers in the Billings area.

Havre's debaters hit top-level competition in the first rounds in a double-elimination format, losing out Friday, but most moved over to compete in Congress, where students compete in a legislative format, presenting, debating and voting on bills.

The public forum debate team of Joram Randolph and Noah Teasley, both juniors, hit teams that ended as a national qualifier and first alternate in their first debates, losing close rounds and being put out of the public forum competition.

The public forum topic they debated this month was looking at whether U.S. welfare programs should be replaced with universal basic income, with the teams prepared to debate both sides of the issue.

Public forum debaters Dartanion Kaftan and Xavier Ulano, also hitting top-level teams, went a bit farther, winning their first rounds, but also were put out after losing close second and third rounds.

Lincoln-Douglas debater LillieAnn Mecklenburg, debating whether nations should eliminate their nuclear arsenals, also hit top-level debaters and lost close debates in the first two rounds.

But Havre's debaters saw more success in Congress.

Ulano moved into the top level early in the competition, setting the docket for bills to be debated in the two three-hour sessions and acting as presiding officer in one hour of the second Senate session, as well as debating the bills presented.

Ulano ended up as the first alternate for nationals in Congress.

Mecklenburg also shone in the event, presenting many speeches on bills and ranking as third alternate for the Senate.

Randolph and Teasley did not end ranked for their performances in one of the House sections of the Congress competition, but did present speeches and debate bills in their sessions and earned more team points for Havre.

Havre ended up in third place in the Congress team sweepstakes competition, with Billings West High School taking second and perennial AA powerhouse Bozeman taking first.

And Havre's students also shone in the individual speech competition.

Junior Elaine Atkinson, performing D'Arcy Robb's "Flight 212 to LA" about the interesting people a woman meets while trying to board her flight, earned some top marks in preliminary rounds, breaking into both the semifinal and final rounds in humorous interpretation of literature. Atkinson ended listed as fourth alternate to nationals in that event.

Senior Angelle Roen, in her first year in speech and debate, competed in memorized public address for most of the year, an event not offered at national qualifiers. Toward the end of the season, Roen started double entering in MPA and oratory, writing a persuasive speech on nationalism and the need for people to take responsibility, stand up for their rights and keep the nation on track to meet the goals of the Founding Fathers.

At the national qualifier, Roen scored some high marks in preliminary rounds and broke into the semifinals round in oratory, but did not make the cut to finals.


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