Laurie Cotten, second from right, a Moffat County High School sophomore and speech and debate member, holds the second-place trophy the team won at a competition Friday and Saturday in Delta. Other team members include, from left, junior Morgan Carrico, senior Skyler Leonard, senior Cullen Dilldine and junior Cassidy Wagner, far right.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Laurie Cotten, second from right, a Moffat County High School sophomore and speech and debate member, holds the second-place trophy the team won at a competition Friday and Saturday in Delta. Other team members include, from left, junior Morgan Carrico, senior Skyler Leonard, senior Cullen Dilldine and junior Cassidy Wagner, far right.

MCHS speech and debate team seals second-place finish with young team

At a glance:

• Moffat County High School’s speech and debate team took second place overall at a competition Friday and Saturday in Delta.

• The team finished with 201 points.

• About half of the team’s membership is made up of novices, or first-time competitors.

• The team has competed in five events so far, four of them in Denver.

• There are no home meets for MCHS this season, due largely to financial considerations.

MCHS results from speech and debate meet Friday and Saturday in Delta:

• First place: Ryan Zehner and Cullen Dilldine, cross-examination debate

• First place: Ryan Zehner, national extemporaneous speaking

• Second place: Cullen Dilldine, foreign extemporaneous speaking

• Second place: Matt Balderston and Ben East, cross-examination debate

• Third place: Laurie Cotten, Lincoln-Douglas debate

•Third place: Matt Balderston, foreign extemporaneous speaking

• Fourth place: Morgan Carrico, Lincoln-Douglas debate

• Sixth place: Ben East, foreign extemporaneous speaking

• Congressional debate

— Cullen Dilldine, superior speaker

— Matt Balderston, outstanding speaker

If this weekend’s performance is any indication, the Moffat County High School speech and debate team could have a winning season ahead.

The team earned 201 points at a competition Friday and Saturday in Delta, cinching second-place overall among 14 teams, coach Casey Kilpatrick said.

The kind of competitors MCHS brought to the meet may make the win more significant. A total of 16 students went to the meet, Kilpatrick said, and 10 of them were novices, meaning this is their first year in speech and debate.

The finish was “incredibly impressive,” he added. “We beat schools that had three to four times more varsity members than we did.”

The same goes for the team’s performance during the season as a whole.

“We’ve had a lot of really great finishes,” Kilpatrick said, adding that senior Ryan Zehner took fourth place a few weeks ago at the largest invitational tournament in the state.

In the eyes of Eric Hansen, who coaches the team with Kilpatrick, the performance of less experienced teammates also is a promising sign.

“I think we have a good future with this group,” he said.

Unlike in the past, new and returning members won’t be competing at home this year.

Kilpatrick said he and Hansen decided against it for several reasons, the primary one being the financial burden on other teams to travel and stay overnight in Craig.

Instead, MCHS has traveled to the Front Range. Four of its five competitions have been in Denver, where the competition is tougher.

“The results are maybe not as inflated as if we were on the Western Slope just because the competition’s a lot harder,” Hansen said. “But, the performances have been just as good, if not better, than in previous years.”

Two of those competitions were tailored to novice members, said Cullen Dilldine, an MCHS senior and speech and debate member. Here, the first-timers competed while varsity members coached and judged.

“At this point in the season, it’s just about developing our younger talent,” he added.

The real test comes next month, when the team travels to tournaments in Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, Wyo., senior competitor Skyler Leonard said.

At that point, MCHS will need the best performances from all its competitors, novice and varsity alike.

“Our competition is going to be a lot harder,” Leonard said.

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