Friday, March 05, 2021

Streak ends, as speech takes second at state

Editor | February 3, 2021 7:00 AM

The streak is over.

The Columbia Falls Wildcat Speech and Debate team took second at the state A tournament Saturday, falling to rival Whitefish, 200-167.

It marked the end of 15 straight state A titles for the Cats.

The Cats had champions in both speech and debate. Griffin Conger took first in dramatic interpretation. In debate, Emma Stephens and Tre Finley took first in policy debate.

But the end result wasn’t entirely unexpected, noted coach Blake Ladenburg. The speakers took on additional speeches and events in different categories with just weeks to go in the season to try to pick up more points, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Whitefish, Frenchtown and Columbia Falls had been neck-and-neck most of the season.

Frenchtown faded a bit at state, taking fourth, Laurel was third.

“This entire season was so close, and coming into this tournament we knew it could go any direction.” Ladenburg said.

He noted that Whitefish had an amazing tournament from start to finish, and not only scored the most points in speech, something they had done most of the season, but also in debate. Ladenburg credited Bulldog’s coach Sara Mueller and her competitors for their performance.

“It is hard to compete against such a strong performance across the board. Whitefish has been such a strong competitive force since I have been back coaching for three years. We push each other to be better, and it’s been an honor to compete on their level with them this year,” he said.

This year all performances were done via video conference online due to coronavirus concerns, which presented plenty of challenges.

Columbia Falls had more than 80 volunteer judges.

“A huge shout out to judges this year,” Ladenburg said. “The virtual season wouldn’t be possible without them.”

He told the team he was proud of them and taking second had its virtues.

“It will make you better adults and citizens in the world,” he said.

“I could not be more proud of my students. They each persevered through an altered and difficult season, and their resiliency was something to behold. I give them a huge amount of credit for showing up week after week and giving it their all,” he added.

Individual Results:

Memorized Public Address

3rd Julia Sowerwine

5th Taylor Stephens

Informative Speaking

3rd Taylor Stephens

8th Aiden Judge

Original Oratory

3rd Griffin Conger

5th Julia Sowerwine


2nd Chloe Coberley

8th Paige Moriarty


8th Aiden Judge

Dramatic Interp

6th Chloe Coberley

Humorous Interp

2nd Ruby Davis

8th Zack Tillman

Policy Debate

1st Emma Stephens and Tre Finley

Public Forum Debate

2nd Calie Johnson and Raphe Salmon

Lincoln Douglas Debate

5th Eddie Chisholm