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Columbia Falls takes Class A state title after undefeated season

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | January 31, 2024 12:00 AM

Columbia Falls High School’s speech and debate team capped another undefeated season as the 2024 state champions.

“We earned 285 sweeps points which is a record for points earned at a state tournament,” said head coach Dawn Roe. “We also had a record number of competitors win the championship in their event which contributed to the points.”

This is the team’s second consecutive state win under Roe.

State runner-up Whitefish High School earned 148 points at the Jan. 26 and 27 tournament in Columbia Falls. Laurel placed third with 88 points.

Leading the Columbia Falls team were event champions Ruby Davis in Informative Speaking, Carson Settles and Reed Wollenzien in Duo Interpretation, Kynsleigh Gould and Eleanor Hollingsworth in Policy Debate, Chris Daenzer and Quinn Caudle in Public Forum Debate, Kajsa Mohr in Humorous Interpretation and Kira Shanks in Memorized Public Address.

“Every single member of our state team contributed sweeps points by winning a round, breaking semi-finals in speech or quarter finals in debate, along with the points earned by the final placements,” Roe said.

“To compete over two days with eight hours of competition each day requires stamina and focus. We had not had a chance to compete against most of the teams from the East so were unaware of their numbers and strengths. The team chose not to let either affect how they competed,” she added.

Although Whitefish didn’t have any individual champions, head coach Sara Mueller said every member contributed to the young team’s second-place finish, which included four graduating seniors who placed third or fourth in their events.

“... Every one of our team of 27 entries scored sweepstakes points toward our runner-up state championship,” Mueller said. “Our tournament highlight was qualifying every speech entry into at least semifinals.”

“Whitefish would like to congratulate and thank Columbia Falls for running an excellent tournament and for great competition throughout the season. They are every bit as formidable as the results show,” Mueller added.

Roe highlighted the camaraderie the rival teams showed at state.

“The Whitefish and Columbia Falls teams have a fantastic relationship and watching them do warm-ups together and encourage each other throughout the season and at state has been one of the favorite highlights of my season,” she said.

Policy Debate

1. Kynsleigh Gould and Eleanor Hollingsworth, Columbia Falls

2. Lauren Rogers and Boone Shanks, Columbia Falls

3. Alex Losee and Vana Fortune, Whitefish

6. Bjorn Bungener and Jake Dunker, Whitefish

Public Forum Debate 

1. Chris Daenzer and Quinn Caudle, Columbia Falls

4. Jayce McDonald and Brynn McDonald, Whitefish

6. Colton Little and Logan Emerson, Columbia Falls

7. Saige Smith and Shailey Green, Whitefish

Lincoln-Douglas Debate 

5. Ivy Salmon, Columbia Falls

6. Melody McNally, Columbia Falls

7. Charlotte Perkins, Whitefish

Extemporaneous Speaking

3. Avery Sorensen, Whitefish

6. Sage Petioni, Columbia Falls

7. David Losee, Whitefish

Impromptu Speaking

4. Iona Sarraille, Whitefish 

Memorized Public Address

1. Kira Shanks, Columbia Falls

2. Merell Cooley, Columbia Falls

4. Ella Walker, Whitefish

6. Eleanor Smiley, Columbia Falls

8. Unity Loveless, Whitefish

Informative Speaking

1. Ruby Davis, Columbia Falls

5. Scarlet Burke, Whitefish

6. Carson Settles, Columbia Falls

Original Oratory 

7. Astir Pulsifer, Whitefish

Humorous Interpretation

1. Kajsa Mohr, Columbia Falls

2. Logan Peterson, Columbia Falls

4. Cole Pickert, Whitefish

5. Kory Moran, Columbia Falls

Dramatic Interpretation

4. Reed Wollenzien, Columbia Falls

7. Annie Walsh, Whitefish

Duo Interpretation

1. Carson Settles and Reed Wollenzien, Columbia Falls

2. Lucas  Counts and Kajsa Mohr, Columbia Falls

3. Ruby Davis and Makinzie Taylor, Columbia Falls

5. Scarlet Burke and Unity Loveless, Whitefish

Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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