Faced with her second choice, Amanda Toy wasn't sure what to expect.
What she got was a third-place finish at the Colorado State Speech Tournament in Littleton last weekend.
Toy, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, failed to qualify for the state tournament in her best event, national extemporaneous speaking, during a regional tournament earlier this month. But she did qualify for state in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, an event in which she competes only occasionally.
Toy and her coaches are thrilled by her strong finish in a crowded field of 64 of the state's best young debaters.
"I was shocked," Toy said.
The debate topic for the tournament was whether the government's obligation to protect the environment takes precedence over its obligation to promote economic development. Toy had to debate both sides of the issue.
Toy's only loss during the tournament came in the semifinal round to the eventual state champion. A different pairing in the semifinal round might have resulted in a second-place finish for Toy, Steamboat speech co-coach Shauna Lamansky said.
But even Toy's third-place finish represents the best a Sailor has fared in state speech competition in many years. The school's only state champion was Nate Smith in 1990.
"This is the first finish this high in a while," Lamansky said. "She did really, really well."
Toy spent much of the season competing and honing her skills in the national extemporaneous speaking event. But small turnout at the state qualifying tournament limited the number of competitors from this region, and Toy failed to earn an invitation. Instead, it was her undefeated record in Lincoln-Douglas Debate that qualified her for state, where she quickly earned the respect of other competitors.
"She established quite a reputation as a good debater at the tournament," said Lamansky, who directed the 78-school, 511-student tournament at Chatfield High School. "She proved she can do many things."
Steamboat's only other competitor at the state tournament was Dana Schlingman, who competed in the original oratory event but didn't advance past the preliminary rounds.
The state tournament marked the end of the team's long Colorado High School Activities Association-organized season.
Nine Sailors will attend a National Forensics League qualifying tournament in April. The team members will be after spots at the NFL National Tournament, which is to take place in June in Salt Lake City.
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