Speech and debate students headed to state | CraigDailyPress.com

Speech and debate students headed to state

Moffat County High School speech and debate team members who are headed for state:

Duo interpretationSophomore Tanya Rinehart and senior Will Schneegas

Cross-examination debateFreshmen Michael Zehner and Gavin Thompson

Public forum debateSophomore Putt Slonksnes and senior Robert McClellan

Poetry interpretationSophomore Emily Norris

Eric Hansen called it a terrific comeback story.

He coaches the Moffat County High School speech and debate team, which will send seven local students to compete at the state level next month.

“For the first time in a while, we’re a respected team,” Hansen said. “It’s nice to be able to compete on the same level as other teams.”

Hansen accompanied the 17-member team to the regional contest last weekend at Grand Junction High School. Now seven will advance to the state competition, March 17 and 18 at Arvada High School. They will compete individually and with partners in four events.

The speech students will compete all day March 17, then the top 12 contenders will compete again all day March 18. Hansen, who coaches the team with teacher Amy Coleman, said he hopes to return to Craig with some trophies like the ones from years past that decorate his classroom.

“Our speech team used to be a legacy,” Hansen said. “They were always a feared team.”

He attributes the program’s success to former coach Jill Grimes. She retired a few years ago, and coach turnover has been high since then, Hansen said.

This is his second year coaching the speech and debate team. He is excited about sending seven contenders to state.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Hansen said. “It’s a big-time improvement from last year.”

Tanya Rinehart and Sabrina Zachary competed in the duo interpretation category at state last year. Rinehart, a sophomore, and senior Will Schneegas, who went to state as a sophomore, will return this year.

Freshman Michael Zehner will compete in March in the cross-examination debate contest.

“I’m really happy about it,” Zehner said. “We’re excited because it’s pretty rare for a freshman to make it to state.”

He said he enjoys competing because debate requires more intellect than other high-school extracurricular activities.

Sophomore Emily Norris, who also will advance to state this year, said she enjoys traveling and meeting new people.

“You make a lot of friends and you get to learn a lot of new topics,” Norris said.

She said she likes applying the knowledge she gets in class to real-world situations.

That’s something Hansen likes to hear. He is optimistic about his students’ chances and the team’s future.

“It’s definitely nice to see the sophomores step up and the freshmen learning,” Hansen said.

“It makes me feel good about next year, for sure.”

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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