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Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

Inform · Connect · Entertain

Spartan Scoop


Speech and debate team placed across various events and had overall success in Kalispell
Tony Hemenway
James working on his case for policy debate

The 23-24 Speech and Debate season kicked off on November 4th, in Kalispell. Sentinel had been holding practices for over a month, and the competitors were eager to get the season started. Both new competitors and old members prepared to face off against competition from all over the state. 

Led by coaches Seaghan Herron, Kristy Bixler, Julie Merritt, and Josh Rosenberger, the Sentinel students were well prepared for the kickoff. The Sentinel debate team is represented in many events, including policy debate (both novice and varsity), Lincoln-Douglas debate, public forum, and extemporaneous speaking. 

In the tournament, 404 competitors from mostly the Western conference represented their schools and strived to gain personal accolades as well. This included students from AA schools, as well as A, B, and C schools. Out of the AA teams at the event, though Sentinel didn’t win the school tournament, they still stood out as one of the top schools. Many of the debaters and speakers were placed in their events, and a Sentinel student even won one of the events. Here were the events that Sentinel students/teams placed:


In this format, two debaters go up against each other in a true 1 on 1 debate. The topic for this year is this resolution: “The government ought to guarantee the right to housing.” Debaters had to take each side of the resolution (Affirmative and Negative) throughout the tournament. In the novice bracket, the new speech and debate members were stellar. Sentinel represented very well, with freshman Abram Allred placing first, and Junior Lydia Maney placing 2nd. The two Spartans competed against each other in the finals, and the outcome was decided by a split decision. 

For varsity Lincoln Douglas, Sentinel was also well-represented. Junior Paul Sellers placed 8th, and Senior Jesse McCormick placed 3rd. At a large tournament like this, it is impressive that Sentinel represented as they did in this event. Congratulations to both of the newcomers and to returners for placing, and in Abram’s case, winning. This is also Jesse’s first time competing in this event, and he was placed in the Varsity bracket. For it being his first time, 3rd place is an incredible feat against some of the best debaters in the state.


This event is widely regarded as the most difficult debate event. In this format, teams of two face off and debate important and expansive topics. This year’s topic is “The United States federal government should substantially increase its fiscal redistribution in the United States by adopting a jobs guarantee, expanding social security, and/or providing a basic income.” This topic has an incredible amount of research behind it, and the affirmative team has the task of devising a specific plan to increase fiscal redistribution. 

The thing about policy debate is this:

…you have to be a perfectionist.

. If there are any holes in your argument or case either affirmative or negative, you will lose the round. Because of this, the event is highly competitive and extremely difficult. Ella Johnson and James Broomfield, Sentinel’s only varsity debate team (for now), fought hard but did not end up placing in the event. 

For novice policy, the team that just joined this year, Sam Maney and Isaiah Roush placed 3rd in the event. The team was eager to get started in the year and won their match in the finals. Because an opposing team outscored them though, they were placed lower than that team. This will be the only tournament of the year that does not have a true finals match. In this event, twins Kieran and Jasper from Hellgate High School took first place and were undefeated in the tournament. 

Sam and Isaiah will compete in the varsity bracket for their next tournament in Helena. There is a big leap from novice to varsity though, and it will be interesting to see how they will perform at this tournament. 


Sentinel also represented well in legislative debate. Ryan Howell and Connor Merritt placed 3rd and 8th. In this format, a piece of legislation is proposed by one team, and the other team has to prove why it would be ineffective, or otherwise not a good piece of legislation. This also involves a lot of preparation and hard work during practices, and it paid off for Ryan and Connor, and they were both able to place in this event.


In extemporaneous speaking the “debate of speech” the competitors get thirty minutes to prepare a speech on various political and current event topics. They first start by drawing three questions and choose one of the three to speak on. After this is their preparation time where they outline their speech and find evidence to back up their thesis. Once the thirty minutes are up the competitors then give a seven-minute speech with a thirty-second grace period on their topic. There is also a possible cross-examination period where they are expected to answer more questions about their topic. 

Even with all these confusing logistics, Avery Stephens placed 3rd in extemp starting off the year strong for the short prep team. 



The other short preparation event, impromptu, is where competitors get only three minutes to come up with a five-minute speech (with a thirty-second grace period) about the given prompt. These prompts range from song lyrics to political cartoons. All they have to do is give an engaging and persuasive speech about their interpretation of the prompt. They can’t use the internet, unlike the extemporaneous speakers, they instead rely on things they’ve read or heard about, personal anecdotes, famous people, historical events, and anything else they can think of to support their claim.

This event is one of the largest in speech and debate due to the fact that no outside work is necessarily needed. Many coaches shove their students into double entering in this event in order to get more points. At this tournament, there were close to seventy competitors in impromptu alone. Despite this Sentinel’s team still pulled through with Avery Stephens placing 3rd and Reyne Mortenson placing 7th. 

Sentinel did a great job at this meet and is looking forward to the rest of the season! The team still has time to continue to improve and hone their skills in hopes of getting higher in the ranks. 

About the Contributors
Sam Maney
"Sports is life" -Sam
Alexis Long
Alexis Long, Reporter
I like to make fun of myself... please laugh.
Tony Hemenway
Tony Hemenway, Photographer
"How can the Earth be flat if my life is constantly going downhill?" -Tony Hemenway