Speech & Debate steps up in Casper, prepping for State

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Jackson Hole High School Speech and Debate Team ran with the big dogs last weekend at the Mustang Classic held at Natrona County High School in Casper and acquitted themselves well. The team earned sixth place in 4A out of 30 schools and close to 800 total entries.

Jackson’s top 10 finish was achieved with only 75 percent of the team in attendance. The meet is a precursor to the state tournament next month. Nearly all Wyoming programs competed in Casper along with several South Dakota schools.

Senior and team captain Aaron Trauner teamed with junior Samantha Smith to bring home first place in Public Forum Debate, an event with 58 total entries. The team explored the issue of whether or not the capital gains tax should be abolished.

Trauner also performed well in Extemporaneous Speaking where he finished in an impressive fifth out of 93 entries.

Trauner reflected on the weekend saying, “The Speech and Debate Team stood up to a major challenge this week as we attended the largest tournament of the year. From seeing new competitors to navigating the packed hallways everyone had a lot to learn but I feel we rose to the challenge.”

Senior and team captain Ellie Dunn placed third in the Senate category of Congressional Debate. She spent her rounds discussing and debating issues such as cell phone recycling, counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region, mental health in schools, and organ harvesting of executed inmates.

Dunn showed off her range of skills when she went on to reach semi-finals of Humorous Interpretation—an event that began with 71 competitors.

Dunn said, “It was a really great meet for the team to learn from some of the best competitors in the region. We are excited to continue working hard and refining our skills for State and Districts.”

Jackson’s LD Debaters had a successful run at the tournament. Sophomores Maleah Tuttle and Warren Levy along with freshman Preston Harmon narrowly missed out of the quarter-final rounds with their 3-1 records in the event that saw 76 entries. They argued whether plea bargaining ought to be abolished in the United States criminal justice system.

The team is coached by Londe and Peggy Gagnon. Coach Londe Gagnon commented on the weekend, saying, “Students needed to be near perfect in preliminary rounds to advance.  The scores many of our team earned would have advanced them to culminating rounds at any other tournament of the season.”

The team next travels to the University of Wyoming for their invitational tournament in two weeks. In addition, they will be hosting a Speech Showcase to demonstrate their skills on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and Wednesday, Feb. 21 at the JHHS auditorium. The presentations will begin at 7pm and admission is $3.

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