11 JHHS students qualify for National Speech and Debate Tournament

JACKSON, Wyo. – The Jackson Hole High School Speech and Debate Team has earned incredible success this past season but found themselves unable to compete in their culminating tournaments due to the COVID 19 crisis. Though the district tournament was canceled this past March, the Wind River District, representing the National Speech and Debate Association, devised an alternative method for qualifying students to the 2020 National Speech and Debate Tournament which will be held online this year in June. The alternative method compiled season-long results to identify the District’s qualifiers. The Jackson team saw 11 of its competitors qualifying for the National Tournament, the most qualifiers Jackson has ever had.

Seniors Darcy Mueller, Warren Levy, River Gayton & Maleah Tuttle, juniors Joshua Hansen & Preston Harmon, and sophomores William Aepli, Jesiah Coates, Carter Worcester, Lily Briggs & Nayeli Hernandez Lopez will represent the Wind River NSDA District this June as they compete against the best in the nation at the National Tournament. This is the twenty-third consecutive year and the thirty-third overall year the team has qualified students for the national meet. In order to earn a bid to compete at the National Tournament, students must place in the top two or three of their particular event.

Along with student successes, volunteer coach, Marlee Miller was named Wind River District Assistant Coach of the Year. Miller, a former competitor and team captain of the JHHS Speech & Debate team worked with the team this year and was instrumental during the team’s home tournament in February.

Coach Peggy Gagnon was recognized as the Wind River District Coach of the Year. Her knowledge, guidance, dedication, and leadership were contributing factors to the honor which was awarded by the Wind River District Committee. Coach Gagnon also recently received her 4th Diamond Award from the National Speech and Debate Association. A coach’s first Diamond is earned when they receive 15,000 points and have been coaching in the Association for at least five years. Five years must pass between each new diamond award, and 15,000 points must be earned to receive a second diamond. An additional 30,000 points must be earned and five years must pass for each additional diamond. Coach Gagnon is the only active coach in Wyoming to have earned four diamonds.

The 2020 Nationals will be held online June 14-20.  Top competitors from across the country will compete to determine the national champion in each event.

As Coach Londe Gagnon observed, “Our entire team represents the qualities the NSDA strives to achieve. All eleven Jackson students will be exemplary ambassadors at the competition this summer. We are so excited for all the milestones they have achieved and look forward to seeing what they bring to the State tournament as well as the National Tournament. Both competitions are unprecedented but we know our students are up to the challenge.”

The Wind River District includes all Wyoming high schools west of I-25. Competitors from Casper Natrona and Kelly Walsh,  Cody, Powell, Riverside, Rock Springs, Douglas, Laramie, Lander, Riverton, Lovell, Green River, Worland, Saratoga, Star Valley, Evanston, Greybull, Rawlins, Hot Springs and Jackson make up the pool of competitors in the District.

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