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24th in ‘24

| January 31, 2024 2:00 AM

The Columbia Falls speech and debate team put an exclamation point on a perfect season, winning the state A title Saturday at home.

The Wildcats brought home the State championships in six out of 11 individual events, noted coach Dawn Roe. It was the 24th title in the school’s history and second in a row under coach Roe. They ran the table last year, never losing a class A meet and they ran it again this year.

“These guys worked their butts off. The reason that they’re state champs is that they have no problem showing up day after day,” Roe said. 

The winners had many memories and favorites attributed to this season — from playing spoons between rounds to a piece of pizza allegedly placed in Carson Settles’s skincare bag by freshman Boone Shanks. One word stood out to Chris Daenzer to describe this season, “Wingdings.”

At the start of the season, the team was working on topic discussion when freshmen Public Forum partners Malakai Shaw and Keian Moran started doing their work in wingdings, where each letter is substituted for a glyph.

“At the start of the year one of them knew uppercase and one of them knew lowercase and they were teaching each other throughout the season,” Daenzer said. 

“We always bridge each other’s gaps… the team is a team and that’s why we do well.” 

Roe noted that hosting the tourney was a massive undertaking, including 23 schools, over 60 coaches and assistant personnel, 294 competitors, and 216 members of the community donating their time to judge 436 total rounds of competition spread over two days and two buildings. 

“No matter what’s going on, there’s still people that support these kids and it’s really nice to see that,” Roe said. 

The Wildcats made sure to thank their friendly rivals the Bulldogs over in Whitefish, as well as the other Flathead Valley schools, for their support. 

Roe recalled that in the chaos of running the state tournament, she was rushing to meet her team for “cheer o’clock,” where the team gets together and builds up energy throughout long days. 

“I come running out, because I said I would be there, and I screech to a halt and there’s Columbia Falls and Whitefish kids — and some Polson kids — in this huge circle with a Whitefish kid in the center leading a cheer about ‘Taking out the Bulldogs,’” Roe laughed. 

The Cats chimed in that they had participated in a “Taking out the Wildcats” cheer earlier in the day, so it was all fair and square. During the awards ceremony, when Columbia Falls won, Whitefish stood and applauded them and vice versa. 

“They push each other to be better,” Roe said. 

Up next the state winners will head to National Qualifiers in Helena, where they will take on schools across the state and in every class. Roe had high hopes for her team, “They’ve competed in AA tournaments which is usually the toughest competition, and we’ve done four AA tournaments this year and they held their own,” she said. If they qualify, they will raise money to attend Nationals in Des Moines this summer. 

Until then, the Cats are celebrating. An assembly at the high school on Tuesday was followed by a fire truck joyride through town, with the speech team as passengers to be cheered on by their onlooking community. 

State title winners included:

Ruby Davis - Informative

Carson Settles and Reed Wollenzien - Duo Interpretation

Kynsleigh Gould and Eleanor Hollingsworth - Policy Debate

Chris Daenzer and Quinn Caudle - Public Forum Debate

Kajsa Mohr - Humorous Interpretation

Kira Shanks - Memorized Public Address

The following students also placed in their events:

Merell Cooley, 2nd place in Memorized Public Address

Logan Peterson, 2nd place in Humorous Interpretation

Lauren Rogers and Boone Shanks, 2nd place in Policy Debate

Lucas  Counts and Kajsa Mohr, 2nd place in DUO Interpretation

Ruby Davis and  Makinzie Taylor, 3rd place in DUO Interpretation

Reed Wollenzien, 4th place in Dramatic Interpretation

Kory Moran, 5th place in Humorous Interpretation

Ivy Salmon 5th place in Lincoln Douglas Debate

Sage Petioni, 6th place in Extemporaneous

Eleanor Smiley, 6th place in Memorized Public Address

Carson Settles, 6th place in Informative

Melody McNally 6th place in Lincoln Douglas Debate

Colton Little and Logan Emerson 6th in Public Forum Debate

    Carson Settles and Reed Wollenzein celebrate their win in DUO Interp at the State A Speech Tournament in Columbia Falls Saturday, Jan 27. (Avery Howe photo)
 Avery Howe 
 
 
    Ruby Davis (right) receives her first place medal in Informative from coach Alix Major at the State A Speech Tournament in Columbia Falls Saturday, Jan 27. (Avery Howe photo)
 Avery Howe 
 
 
    Ruby Davis, Makinzie Taylor, Kajsa Mohr, Lucas Counts, Carson Settles and Reed Wollenzien hold hands as they wait for the winners of DUO Interpretation in Columbia Falls Saturday, Jan 27. Columbia Falls took the top three spots, with Davis and Taylor in third, Mohr and COunts second and Settles and Wollenzien first. (Avery Howe photo)
 Avery Howe 
 
 
    Kira Shanks shows off her first place medal for Memorized Public Address at the State A Speech Tournament in Columbia Falls Saturday, Jan 27. (Avery Howe photo)
 Avery Howe 
 
 



    The Columbia Falls Speech and Debate Team celebrates another State Championship at the State A Speech Tournament in Columbia Falls Saturday, Jan 27. (Avery Howe photo).
 Avery Howe