Though not exactly your typical marathon, last week's National Forensics League National Qualifying Tournament required some of the same attributes of its competitors that a 26.2-mile race requires of runners.
"It's an endurance contest," said Shauna Lamansky, co-coach of the Steamboat Springs High School speech team. "There's a definite element of needing to keep your energy and maintain consistency."
The energy and consistency of the nine Sailors who traveled to Northridge High School in Greeley for the two-day tournament certainly were tested, Lamansky said, and the team passed with flying colors.
Three Sailors made it to the final round in their events, including Patrick Kuczkowski, who was the only team member to earn a trip to the NFL National Tournament in Salt Lake City in June. The top two competitors in each event qualified for the national tournament.
Kuczkowski will test his skills in foreign extemporaneous speaking against some of the best high school speakers in the country. Though he finished third out of 14 competitors at the qualifying tournament, Kuczkowski earned a spot in nationals after the first-place finisher opted to compete in Lincoln-Douglas debate instead.
Amanda Toy narrowly missed qualifying for nationals, instead finishing fourth in Lincoln-Douglas debate. She competed in all seven rounds of the event, including the finals. Last year, Toy went to the national tournament and competed in extemporaneous speaking.
Dana Schlingman also was a finalist, finishing sixth in the original oratory event. Schlingman competed in all six rounds of the event. Schlingman's effort was particularly special because it was the first time she made it to the final round of a tournament all season, Lamansky said.
Three other Sailors made it to the qualifying tournament's semifinal rounds: Kelly Shaw in national extemporaneous speaking and the team of Lydia Kindred and Catherine Mann in duo interpretation.
Kindred and Mann's performance was encouraging for the young and relatively inexperienced duo, Lamansky said.
"(Their performance) was incredibly outstanding considering they were a freshman/sophomore team," she said. "It says a lot for their future."
The combination of strong individual performances led to a sixth-place team finish for Steamboat. About 150 competitors from 21 schools competed in the tournament.
The NFL National Qualifying Tournament signaled an end to the season for all but Kuczkowski, who plans to take a couple of weeks off to focus on lacrosse before he begins preparations for the national finals, Lamansky said.
The season was a strong one for the team, which expects to return all but one competitor, graduating senior Joey Andrew, Lamansky said.
"We had a smaller team, but they did an amazing job," she said. "They worked hard, and we had fun. They finished real strong."
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