JACKSON, Wyo. — The Jackson Hole High School Speech & Debate team earned a first place 4A sweepstakes trophy this past weekend at the Evanston Invitational held in Evanston Jan. 14 and 15.

The Jackson team, under the coaching of Londe Gagnon and Peggy Gagnon, earned 58 sweepstakes points. Rock Springs trailed behind in second with 19 points.

Eight schools attended the meet where JHHS had 15 individual top placings.

Senior and team captain Will Aepli led the way with his championship in Extemporaneous Speaking. Extemporaneous Speaking proved to be a powerhouse event for the Jackson team as senior Sarah Schweitzer placed 4th and junior Alexis Hernandez brought home 5th place.

Public Forum Debate also proved to be a strong event for the Jackson squad. Schweitzer joined team captain and senior Carter Worcester to bring home 2nd place. Senior and team captain Lily Briggs joined Aepli to tie for 3rd place with fellow teammates, freshmen Jasper Brandenburg and Ben Moffett in the event. The debate teams spent the weekend arguing whether or not the federal government should legalize all illicit drugs.

The JHHS team continued to dominate in Congressional Debate. Worcester was the champion in the event with Briggs following closely behind in 2nd place. Sophomore James Neishabouri placed 4th. Brandenburg and Jackson Neishabouri reached the finals round of the event as well.

Hernandez once again earned his triple threat reputation by taking 5th in Lincoln Douglas Debate and finishing in 3rd in Original Oratory. Schweitzer also proved her triple threat status by placing 4th in Impromptu. Aepli placed 7th in the event, cementing his triple threat position as well. Junior Julieta Anaya had a very successful weekend placing 6th in Impromptu and 4th in Poetry Interpretation.

The team competes in a virtual tournament this coming weekend hosted by Star Valley.

The team is planning its own invitational tournament on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 and 5, and needs volunteers.

The team needs approximately 100 volunteers to judge for approximately an hour and a half each. Judging guidelines will be provided and several practice judging sessions will be offered. Judging experience is not required.

Events include Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum, Big Questions, World Schools, Extemporaneous and Cross Examination Debate, Student Congress, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Humor, Drama, Poetry, Program Oral Interpretation, Informative Speaking, Prose, Commentary, Storytelling, Original Spoken Word Poetry, and Duet. Judging these talented high school competitors is an entertaining and rewarding experience. Refreshments and free babysitting will be provided. Email Londe Gagnon at lgagnon@tcsd.org or call 307-699-0537 if you’re interested.

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Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter. She just completed a master's in journalism from Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.