Junior Curtis Lorio, left, and senior Michael Zehner pose with trophies the Moffat County High School Speech and Debate Team has earned this season. Coach Eric Hansen calls it the "most successful season" in a decade. Recently, Zehner qualified for nationals in the Senate competition, while Lorio placed high in the drama competition at the "biggest speech tournament in the nation." Both are among 16 students who qualified for the upcoming state tournament.

Photo by Michelle Balleck

Junior Curtis Lorio, left, and senior Michael Zehner pose with trophies the Moffat County High School Speech and Debate Team has earned this season. Coach Eric Hansen calls it the "most successful season" in a decade. Recently, Zehner qualified for nationals in the Senate competition, while Lorio placed high in the drama competition at the "biggest speech tournament in the nation." Both are among 16 students who qualified for the upcoming state tournament.

MCHS Speech and Debate Team gets 'better and better' every year

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The MCHS Speech and Debate Team heads to the state tournament March 13 and 14 at Highlands Ranch High School and the national-qualifying tournament March 27 and 28 at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins. The national tournament is in June in Birmingham, Ala.

MCHS Speech and Debate Team's State Qualifiers

Cross-Examination Debate:

Seniors Gavin Thompson and Michael Zehner

Juniors Greg Blackstun and Brodie Schulze

Seniors Sam Gilman and Sam Leonard

Junior Holly Bergman and senior Cody McClanahan

National Extemporaneous Speaking:

Senior Derrick Ferguson

Freshman Ryan Zehner

Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking:

Sophomore Ryan Neece

Public Forum Debate:

Seniors Jason Steed and Nora Cazares

Drama:

Junior Curtis Lorio

Senior Katie Ronis

Lincoln-Douglas Debate:

Junior Janna Thompson

He's said it before, and he hopes to say it again: best year yet.

Eric Hansen, five-year coach of the Moffat County High School Speech and Debate Team, said his students are having another phenomenal year.

"They never cease to amaze me," Hansen said of his 40-member team. "Every year, I think we've peaked, and they come back and blow me away."

Hansen, along with assistant coaches and fellow MCHS teachers Casey Kilpatrick and Daphne Stroh, already have helped 16 students qualify to compete at the state tournament, one student qualify for the national tournament and another place high at the "biggest speech tournament in the nation."

"We've been successful at tournaments that, in past years, we never would have been successful at," Hansen said. "For us to take 16 kids to state is unbelievable."

The MCHS team competed in the regional state-qualifying tournament Feb. 20 and 21 at Grand Junction High School and won second place in its region for the second year in a row. Qualifying 16 students for state is a tie for the record among Western Slope schools.

"It's definitely been the most successful season Moffat County has had probably in the last 10 years," Hansen said. "Every year we've gotten better and better."

Senior Michael Zehner and junior Curtis Lorio helped that tradition along with major accomplishments in past weeks.

Zehner qualified for nationals Jan. 31 at the National-Qualifying Congress in Longmont.

All other speech events have a separate upcoming national-qualifying tournament, so the team could qualify more competitors.

Zehner also qualified for state in policy debate with senior Gavin Thompson.

Zehner is excited for the opportunity to compete at the national level in the same event he qualified for last year.

"It's such a good feeling that it wasn't a fluke, and I can go back and represent my district and my state," Zehner said.

He placed in the top 48 of 320 competitors who made it to the national level.

"Hopefully I can match that, if not beat it," Zehner said.

Now in his fourth year, Zehner is nostalgic for the time he's spent with the speech team.

"It's a weird feeling," he said. "I've done it for so long that it seems like such a big part of my life.

"I've made it a big part of my high school life. : It's a strange feeling to know these are my last tournaments."

If Zehner is looking back, Lorio is looking forward. A second-year member, Lorio is thrilled to have placed in the top 18 among 164 students in the drama competition Feb. 12 to 14 at the Berkeley Forensics Invitational in California.

Lorio said he beat out the current state drama champ, which is "a huge honor."

"It was some of the hardest competition ever," Lorio said.

Lorio also qualified for state in the same competition. He'll compete at the national-qualifying tournament in drama and duo interpretation.

"I'm hoping to go to nationals," Lorio said. "That'd be a great experience going to Birmingham, Ala. But, anything can happen."

Comments

speech_geek 5 years, 7 months ago

YAH GO SPEECH AND DEBATE!!!! Obviously you can tell by my name that I'm on the team! Great Job Guys!! We did it! 2 Years in a row we're district champs! Sending 16 and 1 alternate to State! Now c'mon lets get Nationals!!! Sweet Home Alabama Baby!!!

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thumper 5 years, 8 months ago

It's refreshing to see coverage given to other students/activities at the high school other than athletics. Maybe next year CDP will cover the home speech meet. Great job, speech & debate team members & coaches!!

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