Steamboat Springs It's been 10 years since a group from the Steamboat Springs High School Speech Team ranked high in a major Front Range tournament, but last weekend in Palisade, 10 out of 12 members qualified for the Colorado State Speech Tournament in Denver.
If these students place in the top 20 percent at the state tournament at Chatfield High School, they could travel to the National Qualifying Tournament April 6-7 in Greeley. At the national qualifying tournament, 75 to 85 Colorado schools will be competing for first and second place for the national tournament.
Kyle Kuvin: First qualifier in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Beth Ludwig: First qualifier in humor interpretation Jonah Skurky-Thomas: First qualifier in humor interpretation Jenni Stanford: Second qualifier in international extemporaneous speech Julie Lewis: Second qualifier in national extemporaneous speech Ben MacCarthy: Third qualifier in humor interpretation Bryn Weaver: Third qualifier in international extemporaneous speech Julia Patterson: Fourth qualifier in national extemporaneous speech Loren Cogswell: Fifth qualifier in drama interpretation Lauren Tait: Sixth qualifier in humor interpretation Jesse Marshall: Second alternate in national extemporaneous speech
After two days and 17 hours of speeches in national and international extemporaneous speaking, humorous interpretation, Lincoln-Douglas debate and drama interpretation, three students qualified in first, two in second, two in third and one each in fourth, fifth and sixth.
"This group is very focused," said Marty Lamansky, the high school's speech team coach for 21 years. "They're a determined group, but not that tense. They've been in those situations before."
Each student is required to compete in three rounds, some having varied topics and others repeating the same speech.
Humor and drama interpretation speeches are the same for each round, but extemporaneous speakers have different topics.
For instance, extemporaneous speaking requires students to choose three different topics for each round, choose one of the three topics they are most familiar with and create a speech within 30 minutes.
Compared to impromptu, extemporaneous speeches are granted more time for research and for answering the question. One phrased question given at last weekend's state qualifying tournament was: "Should Beijing be granted the 2008 Olympics?"
For all international and national extemporaneous questions, students read an abundance of current events material and gather newspaper and magazine clippings.
"They read a lot," Lamansky said. "Our extempores are reading The Denver Post, Newsweek, Time, World Press Review, Economist, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post."
Other national extemporaneous questions at the state qualifying tournament included: "Is nuclear power becoming a more viable option for the United States?" and "Will there be good relations between George W. Bush and Alan Greenspan?"
Although students can enter in two categories, they can only win in one category. If they win in both, students choose which category they would prefer to continue competing in.
Students are given a point for each place received; the best a student could get is three points (first place in every round).
"It's like track in speech," Lamansky said of the similarities of speech to any sport. "In track, it's like having a person that runs a mile vs. the person that does the pole vault."
All members of the speech team do not compete in all categories.
In the preliminary tournaments, students in the same school cannot compete against each other. But as the race gets further down the road, students in the same category go head-to-head in a battle of the brains.
Humor pieces usually include a shortened piece from a play, no longer than 10 minutes, with a brief introduction and the candid ability to be multiple characters.
"Jonah (Skurky-Thomas) and Beth (Ludwig) both had about eight different characters in their humor pieces," Lamansky said. "They can do that well and are able to bring their own interpretation. (Versatility) has a big role" in winning.
Practicing four days a week since October probably also has an effect on qualifying for state tournaments. Every Monday through Thursday after school for about three hours, different groups of students practice speeches they've prepared followed by a debriefing from Lamansky and his wife and co-coach, Shauna.
At the state qualifying tournament, five students from the extemporaneous speech and five students from oral interpretation qualified for state.
"This is the only the second time in school history we have had this high a number of qualifiers," Shauna Lamansky said. "As a percentage of the team who qualified for the tournament, there was no school at the tournament who even came close."