Hosting a major speech and debate tournament is no easy feat in normal times. Doing it virtually is twice the challenge.
So, last week’s monster meet hosted by the Jackson Hole High School Speech and Debate Team was a success before it was finished. One of the largest tourneys of the season included 31 schools in attendance with over 500 entries. The event required 551 judging slots completed by Jackson community members, alumni of the team, coaches, accompanying judges from around the state, and volunteers from all over the country. The tournament, held via zoom, was organized and run by the 17 members of the team along with their two coaches—Londe and Peggy Gagnon.
Even tasked with organizing the event, certain members of the team were able to compete in limited capacity.
Junior Carter Worcester enjoyed an undefeated run through the preliminary rounds of Extemporaneous Debate before he was eventually knocked out in the octofinals round. Sophomores Alexis Hernandez and Sophie Lamb also made it to the octofinals in the event but were eliminated in that round as well.
Senior and team captain Joshua Hansen made it to the semifinal round of the event tying for 3rd place with Cheyenne East’s Will Ward. That left Jackson’s William Aepli to debate Cheyenne East’s Hernan Rodgriguez-Ferreira in the final round. Aepli eked out a 2-1 decision to come away as the champion in the event.
Prose Interpretation was another place the Jackson squad shined. Worcester finished in 1st place with sophomore Ventura Garcia Perez finishing in 3rd. Sophomore Blanca Sartillo Mejia took 4th, and Lamb settled for 5th place in the event.
It was a 1-2-3 sweep for Jackson in Editorial Commentary with Hansen, Aepli, and Lamb rounding out the podium. Hernandez also finished 6th.
Hansen and Aepli also teamed up in Duo Interpretation and reached semifinals while Sartillo Mejia partnered with sophomore Julieta Anaya Aguilar to take 6th.
In the end, maybe it wasn’t the students who were came away with the biggest reward. Several judges commented on how impressed they were with the competition.
Judge Nicki Poer from Michigan had this to share: “These students are broadcasting from their basements, living rooms, garages. They are reciting poetry and telling stories and connecting emotion to words, and being in the presence of all of that was overwhelming. In a good way.”
JHHS team alumnus Zach Bigalke said, “It’s pretty cool that I can give back to the JHHS speech & debate team tonight by serving as a judge at their virtual tournament. I always wanted to judge but have never been in the area to do so until now. I guess there’s something to celebrate about having to hold the tournament virtually this year.”
“The effort and ingenuity that so many in the school district have shown throughout this past year in order to keep events as normal as possible are phenomenal. Students really shone, and I am always in awe of their immense talent at this event,” added local judge Jessica Jaubert.
The Jackson squad splits their team this coming weekend with several members attending the Camel Classic hosted by Campbell County. Others will compete at the prestigious 47th Annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament hosted by Harvard University.