The Columbia Falls speech and debate team earned another first-place finish in Stevenville over the weekend as the Wildcats picked up nearly twice as many points as second-place Stevensville.
Columbia Falls finished first among the 15 schools at the meet with 123 points, while Stevensville had 68 and Whitefish was third with 58. The Wildcats are battling for their 14th consecutive state title this season and their 21st overall.
According to senior policy team debate competitor Ian McKenzie, there is pressure to deliver another state title this season, but it is best not to think about it.
“You feel it (the pressure) every tournament,” he said. “There is always the question of whether Columbia Falls will make it another year to the top of the podium at State. We try not to think of it, and just focus on every round, every debate.”
Sophomore Chloe Coberly had the only individual first place finish for the Wildcats in Stevensville as she dominated the Lincoln-Douglas debate category.
“Chloe has been a strong contender from her first day on the team last year,” Lincoln-Douglas debate coach Mikel Knutson said. “It has been an honor to watch her build her skills over the last year, and now she is really reaping the rewards of her focused effort.”
Other top-three finishers for the Wildcats in Stevensville included Calie Jo Johnson and Tre Finley, who finished second in policy debate and Emma Stephens and Griffin Conger, who finished second in public forum debate.
The Wildcats will be closer to home this week as they compete at the Bigfork tournament. With four more tournaments before divisionals in Whitefish on Jan. 19, the Wildcats will be busy polishing speeches and honing arguments.
“We put in long hours between tournaments, practicing nearly every day, so that we can be at the top of our game when we get to Divisionals,” McKenzie said. “It pays off.”
2nd Calie Jo Johnson and Tre Finley
4th Ian McKenzie and Maggie McKeon
5th Shyane Williams and Ava Foley
Public Forum Debate
2nd Emma Stephens and Griffin Conger
4th Lara Erickson and Laney Conger
5th Cassidy Norick and Kelsey Wright
Lincoln Douglas Debate
1st Chloe Coberley
8th Raphe Salmon
4th Sam Lovering
7th Sam Lovering
5th Ave’ McDonald
7th Isaac Adams
5th Isaac Adams
4th Paige Moriarty
5th Suzanna Rosalez
Sweeps (team score)
1st Columbia Falls 123
2nd Stevensville 68
3rd Whitefish 58