MCHS students place at state speech and debate competition

Weekend results

Moffat County High School speech and debate results from March 12 and 13 state tournament:

Name, Place, Event

• Curtis Lorio, Second, Drama

• Brodie Schulze, Fourth, Policy debate

• Greg Blackstun, Fourth, Policy debate

• John Kirk, Octofinalist (top 16), Public forum debate

• Skyler Leonard, Octofinalist (top 16), Public forum debate

On a Saturday night bus ride home from Denver, Eric Hansen looked around at some of the Moffat County High School students he had spent nearly 60 days with the past few years, traveling around the country and forging new experiences.

Hansen, the MCHS speech and debate coach, knew that some of the 13 students who went to the state tournament Friday had been disappointed with the outcome, while others were elated.

But Hansen had seen every one of them grow in some way.

“It’s really neat the personal relationships you get with these kids,” Hansen said. “You see them as human beings and you see them at dinners and just functioning at life.

“You’re watching them grow up.”

At the state tournament, three seniors Hansen has coached for years placed in their events, and two juniors made a statement about the future of the program.

Senior Curtis Lorio placed second in the drama event, his best finish in his career.

The debate team of seniors Brodie Schulze and Greg Blackstun finished fourth in the policy debate event, and juniors Skyler Leonard and John Kirk made the top 16 in public forum debate.

Hansen said it was the best his team has finished at state.

“I think it was a really positive experience,” he said. “Obviously, at state, some kids can get disappointed, but I think overall as a team they were very happy and it was a successful trip.”

Lorio was still feeling the energy of his performance Sunday at his home in Craig.

“I think it was the combination of the height of making it to state and being like, ‘I want this,’ and the different kind of judging,” Lorio said of his second-place finish. “It was more about the energy that my coaches and I put into this.”

For Lorio, performing well has implications on his future. Potential scholarships to two schools in Upstate New York will depend on his placement at upcoming national circuit events.

“My ultimate goal is to break through in nationals,” Lorio said. “That basically means finishing in the top 25. Last year I almost did it with poetry, and I just want to go back and do it again.”

He said he couldn’t be happier finishing his senior year with a smaller, but more successful team.

“Overall it’s a huge accomplishment with a team of this size,” he said “This is just really great. I really enjoyed it. All three years I was here, I enjoyed it.”

But the season isn’t over yet.

In two weeks, the team will attend a national-qualifying event. Last year, MCHS sent four students to nationals, and Hansen thinks it’s possible to equal or better that number this year.

“I just think it looks good for us in the future,” he said.

Still, when the end-of-season banquet rolls around, Hansen knows he will have a hard time saying goodbye to the seniors he has coached for four years.

He said even though it will be tough to watch some of the students move on to bigger and better things, he has confidence in what being a part of the speech and debate team means to their education.

“It’s interesting, the kind of conversations we have on the bus rides home,” he said. “Sometimes, we’re talking about one of the debate topics and I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with a high school sophomore. They just learn about situations in the world and news and stuff like that really broadens their horizons.

“Thinking about how much they all grew up, it’s amazing.”

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