JHHS Speech and Debate Team wins State Championship

(Jackson, Wyo.) - The Jackson Hole High School Speech and Debate Team won the 3A State Championship this weekend, held in Buffalo Wyoming on March 10-12. The championship comes on the heels of the team’s very successful season, where they won eight out of nine tournaments, a feat rare in the world of competitive speech. Jackson’s victory came via the talents of four seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, and a freshman who joined more than 300 other competitors at the three day meet. Jackson led the 3A schools with 29 sweepstakes points, followed by Cody in second with 26 points and Worland in third with 20 points. The State Meet limits schools to 18 entries and Jackson advanced 55 percent of its entries to culminating rounds on Saturday, far in excess of the average of 28 percent. PF Debate was Jackson’s strongest event at the tournament. Seniors and team captains, Tristan Wagner and Bella Wood, along with sophomores Daniel Pepper and Aaron Trauner “closed out” the finals of the event as all four tied for 1st place and earned the titles of Public Forum State Champions. Wood also led the interpretative charge with a third place overall finish in Humorous Interpretation, using “Controlling Interest” by Wayne Rawley. Wood also took home the honor of 3A State Champion in the category. Junior Kyler Arriola advanced to semi-finals in the event with his cutting of “Clue: The Musical” by Peter De Pietro. Sophomore Nancy Garcia earned a second place 3A award in Dramatic Interpretation followed by senior Rebecca Vinson’s third place 3A award in the same category. The Jackson extempers had a strong weekend. Wagner placed fourth overall in the event while also earning the title of 3A State Champion. Sophomore Ellie Dunn followed closely behind with her fifth place finish and second place in 3A medal. Pepper placed twelfth in the category. Dunn also earned a second place 3A award in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Trauner continued his successful season in Congressional Debate tying for fifth place overall and earning the title of 3A state champion in the event. Trauner was also voted best presiding officer in his chamber. Garcia’s original bill written for debate, regarding the legalization of marijuana, was voted as best legislation in her chamber. Jackson’s championship team also included senior Sloane Gordon who missed advancing to quarter-finals in Poetry Interpretation by one placing, juniors Emma Harrison-Springett, Adrienne Sugarman, Mataya Foster, Andrea Martinez, and freshman Leila Sandlin. Team captains Wood and Wagner were honored at the meet as nominees of an Ambassador Award. Coaches from across the state nominate students who exemplify good sportsmanship and true competitive spirit. Both Jackson coaches were also proud recipients of nominations for Coach of the Season recognition. “For our team, the captains and coaches’ honor as nominees of these awards are highlights of the tournament this year. Our entire team has earned the respect of coaches and students across the state for the professional way they carry themselves at tournaments. The team and coaches places cooperation, ethical conduct and sportsmanship as their primary goals. Our team’s ability to recognize the complex challenges and rewards of team competition, beyond simply winning and losing, is truly inspiring," said Coach Londe Gagnon. “This was a magical weekend for the team. The team has held their focus all season and did not take for granted the championship that is now theirs,” said Coach Peggy Gagnon. The team last won the State Championship back to back in 2012 and 2013. As Jackson prepares to move to 4A next season, Londe Gagnon commented,” Our strong showing at the State meet bodes well for our move to the next competitive class in the upcoming year. Based on their dedication this year, I truly believe our team is up to the challenge.” With their sweepstakes points this year Jackson beat the third place and former 6 time state champions in 4A, Green River, and tied in points with second place 4A finisher, Cheyenne Central. The team will now start preparation for the National Speech and Debate Qualifying Tournament, which will be held in Riverton this upcoming weekend. The top finishers at this meet will travel to the 2016 National Tournament which will be held in Salt Lake CIty, Utah this June. *Feature Photo: JHHS Speech and Debate. h/t JHHS Speech and Debate /