Glacier, Flathead ready to bring ‘AA’ game to opener

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  • Flathead senior Annabelle Pukas practices with the speech and debate team at Flathead High School on Tuesday, Oct. 30. (Casey Kreider photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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    From left, Glacier High School students Joseph Schlegel, Emma Lovejoy, Simon Roston and Mercedes Santa work on a policy speech during Wolfpack Speech & Debate Team practice at the school on Tuesday, Oct. 30. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    From right, Glacier High School students Simon Roston, Emma Lovejoy and Joseph Schlegel work on a policy speech during Wolfpack Speech & Debate Team practice at the school on Oct. 30.

  • Flathead senior Annabelle Pukas practices with the speech and debate team at Flathead High School on Tuesday, Oct. 30. (Casey Kreider photos/Daily Inter Lake)

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    From left, Glacier High School students Joseph Schlegel, Emma Lovejoy, Simon Roston and Mercedes Santa work on a policy speech during Wolfpack Speech & Debate Team practice at the school on Tuesday, Oct. 30. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    From right, Glacier High School students Simon Roston, Emma Lovejoy and Joseph Schlegel work on a policy speech during Wolfpack Speech & Debate Team practice at the school on Oct. 30.

Team members are ready to speak their minds as the speech and debate season revs into high gear with the Kalispell Kickoff today.

Class AA teams from Glacier and Flathead high schools are once again are aiming to take back the championship title from Bozeman following second- and third-place finishes, respectively, at state last January.

Glacier Head Coach Greg Adkins and Flathead Head Coach Shannon O’Donnell reflected on the dynamics of this year’s teams and expectations.

“I always have high expectations from our team and this season is no different,” Adkins said. “And despite being large, we are really young, and I would say that we probably don’t have the balance between events that we will need to be the state champion favorite, but I hope that is something that develops as we progress through the season,” Adkins said.

“We have consistently been very strong in the [interpretation] events, debate events and memorized events,” Adkins said. “This year our strength appears to be Duo Interp, Public Forum Debate and Humorous Interp. Again, for us to challenge Bozeman we are going to have to become better balanced and rebuild the events that were hit by the graduation class of 2018,” he added.

O’Donnell is looking at a team of seasoned competitors after building up a young team over the past few years.

“For the first time in a few years, we have a strong veteran core. The team is unified and focused. This year, we are in it to win it,” O’Donnell said. “ While it will undoubtedly be a challenging season, we believe we have a chance at this year’s state championship.”

She also spoke about Flathead’s strengths.

“We’ve always excelled in Impromptu and Extemp, but Lincoln-Douglas Debate is definitely our strongest area right now, followed by oratory and informative,” O’Donnell said. “This year’s team will likely be strongest in debate and memorized events.”

Each SCHOOL has its set of top veteran competitors who will anchor their teams.

For the Glacier Wolfpack, junior Simon Hill will defend his state champion titles in Humorous Interpretation and Duo Interpretation. National qualifier senior Zach Hill returns with a 2017 state title in Duo Interpretation under his belt. Two-time national qualifier senior Drew Lorenc will be competing in Duo Interpretation and Humorous Interpretation. Two-time national qualifier senior Malea Bauer will compete in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Other returning national qualifiers are: senior Ashlyn Cleveland and juniors Mercedes Altman Rebich, Sierra Riley and Matt Glimm.

Adkins predicts Brooklyn Lamers could leave competitors speechless in Impromptu Speaking and Extemporaneous Speaking.

For the Flathead Braves, junior Bohdi Hollman will defend a state title in Informative Speaking and senior Sierra Dilworth in Lincoln-Douglas Debate. National qualifiers bringing their “AA” game are: junior Julia Wynne, Original Oratory; junior Jonah Love, Humorous Interpretation; senior Reed Miller, World Schools Debate; junior Scott O’Donnell, World Schools Debate; senior Annabelle Pukas, Lincoln-Douglas Debate; and senior Melissa Roybal, Congressional Debate.

O’Donnell said Tanis Hadwin and Jonah Love will be strong competitors in Humorous Interpretation competition.

“We plan to take it one tournament at a time. It’s a long season, and the main goal is to keep the team cohesive and focused throughout,” O’Donnell said about the goals for this season.

At the end of the day, competition aside, the coaches look toward developing a season of memorable experiences.

“We always strive for this to be a meaningful and worthwhile experience for everyone involved,” Adkins said. “I always tell the team that my hope is that when you reflect on your experience in Wolfpack Speech and Debate, five, 10, even 20 years from now, I want you to remember the experience as a positive time in your life — a time that you did something and were part of something very special.”

The Kalispell Kickoff speech events will be held at Flathead High School. Debate events will be held at Glacier High School. The first round begins at 8 a.m. with the final round at 4:30 p.m. An awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Glacier performance hall.

Other schools competing at the tournament include Bigfork, Big Sky, Columbia Falls, Corvallis, Frenchtown, Hamilton, Loyola, Ronan, Sentinel, Stevensville and Whitefish.

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

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