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Whitefish Speech and Debate triumphs in tiebreaker

January 28, 2019 GMT

Bulldogs bring home the hardware, breaking Col. Falls dynasty


Daily Inter Lake

The Class A speech and debate state tournament was an intense fight to the finish for the championship title.

After the tournament culminated in both teams amassing 187 points - it took not one, but two tiebreakers for Whitefish High School to ultimately prevail and bring home the state championship trophy.

It was another upset win for the Whitefish Bulldogs, ending the Columbia Falls Speech and Debate dynasty’s consecutive wins. The Columbia Falls Wildcats finished in second.


“I could not be more excited to bring home a state championship to Whitefish,” said Whitefish Head Coach Sara Mueller. “The kids clawed for every point and have for most of the season. For it to end on a second tiebreaker was a perfect finale to the season. Columbia Falls was well coached, powerful, and prepared. Speech and Debate is alive and well in the Flathead Valley.”

The state tournament, held Jan. 25-26 in Belgrade, was a nail-biter to the end with Whitefish excelling in speech events and Columbia Falls in debate.

Leading the Whitefish team were state champions Bethany Barnes in Informative Speaking and Grace Benkelman in Memorized Public Address.

Columbia Falls state champions included: Ian McKenzie and Maggie McKeon in Policy Debate and Cassidy Norick and Kelsey Wright in Public Forum Debate.

“It was pretty incredible,” Columbia Falls Head Coach Tara Norick said about the tiebreaker. “The odds that we would have nearly 300 competitors over eight rounds in 10 different events, and have the results end in a tie, is mind boggling.”

Norick said she was proud of the season’s accomplishments.

“This is a young team, and one of the smallest we’ve had in several years. Every single person on the team contributed to our effort and we really worked together to support each other. Whitefish has an outstanding program and put together a great team this year. It has been an honor competing with them all season, and this is a perfect way to finish the year - a true match up down to the wire.”

Following are individual results.

Policy Debate

1. Ian McKenzie and Maggie McKeon, Columbia Falls

2. Shyane Williams and Ava Foley, Columbia Falls

3. Dani Mayeaux and Aidan McMahan, Whitefish

4. Abby Lowry and Ivan Cline, Whitefish

7. Calie Jo Johnson and Tre Finley, Columbia Falls

Public Forum Debate


1. Cassidy Norick and Kelsey Wright, Columbia Falls

2. Lara Erickson and Laney Conger, Columbia Falls

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

4. Lilly Butts, Whitefish

Informative Speaking

1. Bethany Barnes, Whitefish

3. Elizabeth Campbell, Whitefish

6. Regan Tintzman, Whitefish

Memorized Public Address

1. Grace Benkelman, Whitefish

2. Emmalee Hellen, Columbia Falls

7. Suzanna Rosalez, Columbia Falls

8. Maile Vine, Whitefish

Original Oratory

2. Aidan Reid, Whitefish

3. Paige Moriarty, Columbia Falls

4. Libby Goldhirsch, Whitefish

Extemporaneous Speaking

2. Abigail Bowden, Whitefish

8. Bethany Barnes, Whitefish

Impromptu Speaking

6. Sam Lovering, Columbia Falls

7. Regan Tintzman, Whitefish

8. Paige Moriarity, Columbia Falls

Humorous Interpretation

2. Danika Tintzman, Whitefish

5. Logan Mercer, Whitefish

6. Isaac Adams, Columbia Falls

Dramatic Interpretation

2. Naya Brigette, Whitefish

4. Lucy Schindler, Whitefish

6. Emmalee Hellen, Columbia Falls