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Columbia Falls Speech and Debate wins Western A title

by By JP Edge and Chris Peterson
| January 23, 2023 9:45 AM

The Columbia Falls speech and debate team won the Western A Divisional title over the weekend, easily outpacing the competition.

The Wildcats racked up 256 sweeps points, while Whitefish placed a distant second with 137 points and East Helena placed third with 87. Columbia Falls hosted the tournament.

The Cats had eight team members take home divisional championships and five runner-ups.

The squad now makes the long journey across the state this week to compete at the state tournament in Sidney — a 13 hour long drive on good roads, nevermind winter.

Still, the team is stoked.

“It’s the first year we’ve had a full team going in a couple years and we haven’t taken the title in a while so I’m excited to take it back,” Eddie Chisholm, who won the divisional title in Lincoln Douglas debate said.

Teammate Brandon Crawford had similar sentiments.

“I’m really excited, it’s been a turbulent year, but we’re undefeated so I have pretty high hopes. We’ve never been this far to compete and there will be a completely different group of judges so it should be interesting. It’s a five-day (road) trip so we’ll have to find ways to keep ourselves entertained on the bus with things like books and headphones,” Crawford said. Crawford, along with teammate Aiden Rohn, took the divisional title in public forum debate.

“It’s going to be fun! It’s a great group and a lot of seniors so it should be a great adventure. The entire team is going as well or are alternatives. We have a lot of young members as well who should do really well,” coach Dawn Roe said of the upcoming state tourney.

The Cats took second at state in 2022 and 2021. In 2020 they won the state A title, the team’s 15th in a row. This year they have yet to lose and the hope is to begin 2023 with another championship trophy.

Several students competed in more than one event.

The following took championships in the divisional round:

Aiden Rohn and Braiden Crawford, Public Forum Debate

Zack Tillman and Lucas Counts, Duo Interpretation

Eleanor Hollingsworth & Kynsleigh Gould, Policy Debate

Eddie Chisholm, Lincoln Douglas Debate

Carson Settles, Informative

The following placed in their events:

Lauren Rogers and Boone Shanks, second in policy debate

Ruby Davis, second in Informative

Makinzie Taylor, second in humorous interpretation

Eleanor Smiley, second in memorized public address

Ava Minns-Prezeau and Celestine Young, third in policy debate

Kajsa Mohr, third in Dramatic Interpretation

Reed Wollenzien and Carson Settles, third in duo interpretation

Ruby Davis and Elli Sandstrom, fourth in duo interpretation

Reed  Wollenzien, fourth in dramatic interpretation

Colton Little, fifth in extemporaneous

Elli Sandstrom, fifth in humorous interpretation

Quinn Caudle and Logan Emerson, sixth in public forum debate

Merrell Cooley, sixth in memorized public address

Alanna Milhollen, sixth in Lincoln Douglas debate

Robyn Maddux, seventh in memorized public address

Charles Hakes, seventh in informative

Sophie Petioni, eighth in extemporaneous

The following also qualified for state:

Selah Heinzen and Julianna MacPherson, public forum debate

Christopher Daenzer, Lincoln Douglas debate

Brandon Widhalm, humorous interpretation

Charles Hakes, extemporaneous

Mika Bennett, impromptu

Brin Shull, original oratory

Greyson Pfeifle, first alternate for original oratory

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