MCHS speech and debate nets good start at competition

— The Moffat County High School speech and debate team continued its persuasive ways this past weekend in Denver at its first competition of the year.

The team traveled to Denver for two novice tournaments, competitions for inexperienced speech-and-debate team members before they're put on the varsity stage.

Two students went undefeated, 6-0, and four others went 5-1. Two weeks ago, the National Forensic League named MCHS the Leading Chapter - the league's highest honor - for the Rocky Mountain North district.

"I knew they were bright kids, and I knew they'd do well," said Eric Hanson, speech and debate co-advisor. "But I was definitely surprised how well they did so early in the season."

Junior team Cody McClanahan and Sam Leonard finished with a perfect record in the cross-examination competition.

McClanahan helped accomplish that with only four practices under his belt. This is his first year in debate.

"It's kind of a baptism by fire," he said.

Leonard started with the team three years ago, though he has no experience doing cross-examination in competition. Interest in the team among high school students spiked the past two years, and the team has become a lot more successful since then, Leonard said.

The team has come a long way in a short time, he added.

"We always expect the team to do good," Leonard said. "I think it's actually been a really short time" the team has progressed in.

Freshmen Ryan Neece and Jason Steed finished with one loss in the public forum section. Neither of the two had debated before, they said.

They said they were happy, despite the blemish to their overall record.

"I think the first debate didn't go so well, but we learned a lot," Steed said.

Jessica Hogue finished 5-1 in the Lincoln and Douglas debates, which are "values" contests where students debate topics such as the death penalty.

The upcoming season looks promising, said Amber Clark, a co-advisor who teaches science at the high school.

"It looks excellent," Clark said. "We've got a great bunch of kids. Our juniors are really strong. We're counting on them to be captains and work with our new people."

The team has 13 competitions left, including six district meets. Its next, a novice tournament, is Nov. 26 and 27 in Delta.

The team is still young, Clark said. Last year, the oldest kids taken to nationals were sophomores, this year's juniors and would-be captains.

Most of the students this year are sophomores and juniors.

Sophomore Janna Thompson was a freshman on last year's team. She didn't place in the recent Denver competition, but she did learn a lot she can use in the coming year.

"I expect us all to do well and to learn," Thompson said.

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