By Marlys Good
After a nine-year hiatus, the Greybull High School speech and debate team returned to the podium as 1A/2A state champions. But the title went right down to the wire during the award ceremonies Saturday.
According to Coach Joel Kuper, Greybull went into the award ceremony “with a narrow lead over Glenrock in terms of semifinalist points. In finals, the championship came down to how well Ashlyn Ewen would place in Oratory compared to Glenrock’s finalist in Poetry.”
The celebration began when it was announced that Ashlyn took fourth, while Glenrock’s poet ended up in fifth and Greybull returned to the podium after a nine-year absence.
“It was an exceptional year for the team,” Kuper said. “We had such hard-working students and they were focused all year on earning the state championship. With eight first place sweepstakes, one second place and the state championship in 1A/2A, they more than achieved their goals.”
Kuper said exceptional performances from a number of students contributed to Greybull’s success.
In Oratory, Ewen and Bailee Foster made it to the semifinals, the only two 1A/2A entries to advance to that level. Ewen went on to the finals and placed fourth in all classes and was the 1A/2A state champion; Foster placed second in her class. Reyna Rodriguez and Angelica Rasmussen were semifinalists in Programmed Oral Interpretation; Rasmussen finished third in 1A/2A.
Sara Jones made the semifinals in both Humor and Drama, and placed second in 1A/2A in both events while teammate Baylee Drewry earned third in 1A/2A Drama.
Rodriguez finished second in 1A/2A in Informative Speaking while Jaden Stebritz and Serenity Kinswoman advanced to the quarterfinals in Poetry; Kinswoman continued her winning ways and took third place in the 1A/2A Poetry competition.
Greybull had a strong showing in both Congressional and Public Forum debate. Stephanie Jones was the only competitor in her class to speak well enough to compete in the State Super Congress round, joining 19 other qualifiers. She was the 1A/2A champion in Congressional Debate. She teamed up with Sadie Harper in Public Forum Debate and the duo registered three wins, three losses and finished 15th out of the 36 teams. This was good enough to give them the 1A/2A championship.
Special recognition from the Wyoming High School Forensics Association went to GHS senior Kinswoman. For her “exceptional contributions to the team and to the state,” she was presented with a Forensics Ambassador award. To be recognized for this honor, a student must be nominated and then voted on by all the coaches in attendance at the state tournament. Only five awards were presented across all classes with Kinswoman the sole 1A/2A student to receive the honor.
Joel Kuper was nominated by his fellow coaches as the 1A/2A Coach of the Season.
Also competing at the state level were: Eden Hanson, Oratory, Duo; Ivette Guitierrez, Duo, Poetry; Rasmussen in Poetry; and Drewry and Harper in Congress.
Kuper said that without the constant effort and dedication of the students and the help of assistant coach Em Wilson, “We would never have had the success that we did. I am extremely proud of all of them. We will miss our seniors a great deal next year, but have a very talented group of underclassmen who may give us a good chance to bring home something next year as well.”
Eight students will compete in the NSDA National Qualifying Tournament in Rock Springs March 15-17 in hopes of qualifying in their respective events to attend the NSDA tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. this summer.
“I’m confident that our students will once again give their very best at the qualifier. We have some solid performers across all the events; we are hoping we‘ll be traveling to nationals.”
The speech team will host an open house and awards night during the third week in March. All interested members of the community are invited to join Kuper and his students in a final celebration of an incredible year.