Six Steamboat Springs High School students will compete for a spot in the national speech and debate tournament during a qualifying event this weekend.
The Sailors head to Greeley on Thursday for the National Forensic League's Rocky Mountain North National Qualifying Tournament, a 21-school tournament in which the top two competitors in each event earn a spot in June's national tournament in Philadelphia.
"This is probably the tensest tournament," team co-coach Marty Lamansky said. "This is what they work for all year long."
Unlike other tournaments held throughout the season, the national qualifying tournament is a double elimination event. Speakers and debaters are eliminated when they've finished in the bottom half of their event twice. When there are seven or fewer competitors in an event, elimination rounds will trim the field until only two competitors remain. The top two in each event earn spots in the national tournament.
Last year, Sailor Patrick Kuczkowski qualified for the national tournament with a strong performance in the foreign extemporaneous speaking event. This year, Kuczkowski, a senior, will attempt to qualify in foreign extemporaneous speaking and original oratory.
Joining him in Greeley will be teammates Amanda Toy, Kayla Murphy, Dana Schlingman, Ashley Lopez and Stephanie Engle.
Toy, a senior, just missed a spot in nationals last year after placing third in Lincoln-Douglas debate in the qualifying tournament. Toy will compete in Lincoln-Douglas debate and national extemporaneous speaking this weekend. Murphy will compete in humorous interpretation; Schlingman in original oratory; Lopez in foreign extemporaneous speaking; and Engle in Lincoln-Douglas debate.
"I think they're excited," Lamansky said. "I think they're ready to go. We're hoping this last week of practice gets them ready to go."
The national qualifying tournament will be the last competition of the season for any Sailor who doesn't earn a spot in June's national tournament.
Five Sailors competed in the Colorado State Speech Tournament on March 18 and 19 in Littleton.
Schlingman, a senior, was the only Sailor to make the elimination rounds in her event. She finished sixth in original oratory.
"They had individual highlights," Lamansky said.
During the preliminary rounds, Lopez, a freshman, defeated the eventual state runner-up in foreign extemporaneous speaking. Engle finished with a record of 1-2 in Lincoln-Douglas debate. Also, Suzie Ford competed in poetry, and Travis Mouffe competed in humorous interpretation.
More than 600 students from 84 schools competed in the state tournament.
"It's a very tough tournament," Lamansky said.
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