There are times when less competition is a good thing, such as during last weekend's speech and debate tournament at Moffat County High School in Craig.
For the Steamboat Springs High School speech team, the Saturday invitational provided a relaxed atmosphere that helped inexperienced team members gain the confidence needed to perform well at larger and more prominent tournaments.
"In some ways, it made it easier because it was less intimidating," team co-coach Shauna Lamansky said, adding that the 13 Sailors who attended the event relaxed and had fun -- and it showed in their performance.
The tournament, which featured about 50 competitors from seven high schools, proved to be the best yet for the team, which placed second overall and saw 12 of its 13 competitors earn awards.
The Sailors swept the tournament's original oratory event with a first-place finish by Dana Schlingman, a second-place finish by Kelly Shaw and a third-place finish by speech newcomer Austin Anderson. Marty Ludwig placed fifth in the event, which requires competitors to present a persuasive or motivational speech backed by statistics and research.
Schlingman, a senior, wrapped up her strong tournament performance with a second first-place finish in the duo interpretation event, in which she paired with Kayla Murphy, who was making her first competitive appearance of the year. Teammates Lydia Kindred and Travis Mouffe placed second in duo interpretation.
Mouffe finished third in humor, Suzie Ford was fourth in poetry, and Katelyn Stokes was fifth in drama.
In the debate event, Anderson placed second, and Ashley Lopez placed sixth. The team of Shaw and Stephanie Engle finished fourth in public forum debate.
"The team is really showing a desire to continually improve," Lamansky said. "Many of them were competing in events for the first time, but that didn't seem to slow them down."
The team, which has almost twice as many members as it did last year, travels to Cherry Creek this weekend for a 40-school tournament. The team hosts its only tournament of the year Jan. 8.
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org