Spearfish High School Speech, Debate team sweeps state again!
SPEARFISH — It was quite a tournament for the Spearfish High School Speech and Debate team, taking the state Class A championship for the third year in a row, having its first four-time national qualifier, senior Griffin Smith, named District Student of the Year, and seeing Coach Bob Speirs named District Coach of the Year.
“To get the coach of the year, student of the year, and a state championship in one season probably isn’t something we will pull off again during the remainder of my career,” Speirs said of the tournament that took place over the weekend in Watertown.
Speirs described that 440 entries from 23 schools were present and that community support was incredible. He described that the win was a team effort, with assistant coaches Danielle Ligtenberg and Allisa Walters making so much of it possible, and “it would have been impossible without the seniors and their help,” he added.
The team scored more than 240 points, outpacing the competition by a wide margin, Speirs said.
“The state debate tournament, while long and challenging, was an amazing
experience,” Smith said. “Getting to travel and compete with my teammates and bring back the state championship trophy is something I will always remember.”
Besides the state team championship, Spearfish had two individual state event champions: Morgan Roberts is the state champion in Domestic Extemporaneous and took third in Lincoln Douglas debate.
The Public Forum Debate team of Thomas Friedrich and Lilly Dennison earned the final round win against Sioux Falls Christian to become state champions in that event, while Friedrich went on to take third in International Extemp.
Senior Captains Griffin Smith and Zac Zwaschka earned third and fourth in Original Oratory while also breaking into the out rounds of Cross-Examination Debate.
Seniors Tanner Hanson and Braden Case both earned out round competition, with Hanson taking fourth in International Extemp and Case competing the quarterfinals of Lincoln Douglas after going undefeated in preliminary rounds.
Senior Logan Smith and partner junior Taylor Hersch went undefeated in the preliminary rounds of Public Forum debate and lost in quarterfinals.
Junior Justin Steedley and partner sophomore Ella Murray added 12 team points with preliminary round wins in Cross-examination debate.
“Every person on this 11-person team added to the overall point total to help us earn this championship,” Speirs said.
Spearfish High School will also be well-represented at nationals: During the season, Smith and Zwaschka qualified for nationals in duet interpretation; Steedly in Student Congress; and Case and Echo Palmgren qualified in a newly-created event called world debate and will be working with a coach and students from a group of schools.
“Griffin (Smith) also became our school’s only four-time national qualifier, took first in Original Oratory, and was named the District Student of the Year,” Speirs added.
The national tournament takes place June 17-22 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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