Battle Mountain brings home six state champions on the way to another state title |

Battle Mountain brings home six state champions on the way to another state title

Larkin Smith, left, and Stuart McDonald are the first pair to ever win back-to-back state titles in duet humor with the same partners. Besides last year's and this year's titles, they finished fourth together as sophomores. Battle Mountain won this year's state championship.
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Battle Mountain state results


Stuart McDonald and Larkin Smith, Duet Humor

Francesca Marquez and Dudley Ottley, Duet Drama

Naomi Kuntz, Dramatic Interpretation

Kendal Sego, One on One Value Debate

Second Place

Eva Hutchinson, Dramatic Interpretation

Rachel Weiss, Dramatic Interpretation

Third Place

Malia Barca, Impromptu Speaking

Anna Skelton, One on One Value Debate

Bret Pilkington, Poetry

Fourth Place

Eliot Hutchinson, Humor Interpretation

Anna Skelton, Impromptu Speaking

Fifth Place

Garvin vanDernoot and Luke McKeever, Duet Humor

Sixth Place

Kelsey Lynch and Jack Dorfman, Public Forum Debate

Eagle Valley’s state results

Third place

Kenna Kurronen and Chantal Willoughby, Public Forum Debate

Hannah Laisure, Original Oratory

Fourth place

Ame Stone, Poetry

Hailey Pope, Original Oratory

Fifth place

Tori William, Poetry

Samantha Pritchard, Dramatic Interpretation

Sixth place

Geo Tarango and Erik Forbes, Duo Humor

Seventh place

Ame Stone and Morgan Kromer, Public Forum Debate

Natalie Marner, Original Oratory

Morgan Genelin, Impromptu Speaking

Ninth Place

Morgan Genelin, Value Debate

Tenth place

Ryan Boeke, Creative Story Telling

EAGLE COUNTY — No team you know has ever fielded six state champions … until now.

Battle Mountain High School’s speech and debate team won another state title, putting six state title winners on the top of the podium. Now’s a good time for you to crank “Ode to Joy” up really loud.

And the winner is …

Larkin Smith and Stuart McDonald won their second straight state title in duet humor interpretation. They’re the first pair in Colorado history to win back-to-back state titles with the same partner. Other individuals have won twice, but never with the same partner.

Francesca Marquez and Dudley Ottley won their state title in duet drama interpretation.

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Naomi Kuntz won a state title for dramatic interpretation. Kuntz also was also a winner at last weekend’s national qualifier, and will compete in the national meet, June in Dallas.

Kendal Sego won a state title in Lincoln Douglas debate.

Hard work begets good luck

It’s good to be lucky, but it’s better to be good and lucky. And luck, as we know, tends to favor the prepared.

“A lot of it’s luck. Then you have to have great coaches and work at it,” said Kelsey Lynch, a junior on this year’s Battle Mountain team.

Here’s the thing — after you finish high school, almost no one will ask you to slam dunk or demonstrate your crossover dribble.

But if you’re smart and eloquent, you’re smart and eloquent forever.

Take Battle Mountain’s Rachel Weiss, for instance, one of this year’s state finalists.

Battle Mountain was at a meet at Palisade one Saturday when word rolled in that Weiss had been accepted to Cambridge University.

“It was one of our memorable moments of the season!” said Battle Mountain coach Diane Wagener.

Anna Skelton, Eva Hutchinson, Bret Pilkington Weiss have all been state finalists before. Hutchinson was a state champ her sophomore year.

Two for two

Smith and McDonald attend Vail Christian High School and compete with Battle Mountain. They’re both seniors, and they’ve been acting together for three years. Besides two state titles, they were finalists as sophomores, finishing fourth.

This year they did The Book of Mormon, and did it proud. The pieces have to be 7-10 minutes long. Theirs included songs, choreography and snippets from the play.

“It took a lot of work, cutting things we really wanted to put in there,” Smith said.

Last year they won with College Humor’s Guide to College. Among other things, it points out that roommates don’t always turn out like you’d expect. Life imitated art last summer when McDonald took a summer course at Stanford and his roommate never showered.

They’ve been together so much they sometimes finish each other’s sentences.

“Working with the same person for months on end is …,” Smith said … “Is wonderful!” McDonald said.

“One of the most important things is how to be in a partnership, accepting advice and working together to make something great,” Smith said. “I learned to collaborate with people.

You learn to give and receive both praise and criticism.

“People can be wary to say something that you think might hurt them, but we totally knocked that barrier down,” McDonald said.

Waiting for the winners

At the state meet, they have an awards ceremony and all six finalists are called to the huge stage at Heritage High School. No one knows who won, and the finalists are called beginning with sixth place and moving toward the state champions.

“It’s awesome to be the last one standing,” McDonald said. “When you hear the second place name – and it’s not yours …”

“We were so excited,” Smith said.

They’re both seniors, and this was their last year.

“It was kind of sad because we knew speech was over for us, and we’ve been together for so long,” Smith said.

What you learn

Hannah Laisure, an Eagle Valley senior, finished third in original oratory. You pick your topic and write a 10 minute speech about it. Hers was about addiction and explored ways to help.

Ame Stone, also an Eagle Valley senior, finished fourth in poetic interpretation and seventh in public forum debate.

They’ve both been competing all four years, and go to this weekend’s national qualifier.

Their public speaking skill will serve them well all their days.

“One of the most powerful tools you have is your voice and the words you choose. If I want people to listen to me, I use my words the right way,” Laisure said.

Stone said she was scared as a freshman, but joined Eagle Valley’s speech team anyway. It taught her to advocate for a position based on facts, not inflamed rhetoric or personal attacks.

“I started terrified of public speaking and it taught me the importance of the skill,” Stone said.

Senior Jack Dorfman has been with Battle Mountain’s team all four years, so he knows how it feels to hoist speech’s version of the Stanley Cup.

“I’m sure we were all a lot more shy before we started this, but you’re required to go outside your comfort zone,” Dorfman said.

Kelsey Lynch is his public forum debate partner, and says speech is the best club you can join in high school.

“Not only have I learned things about the world, but from different perspectives. I’ve made so many friends from different backgrounds,” Lynch said.

It’s pretty overwhelming when you’re a freshman, Dorfman said.

Freshman Noah Seeman agreed.

“It was the most speech people I’ve ever seen assembled in one place,” Seeman said.

Speech starts in September and the state meet is in January. Finish well there and you get to practice some more. The national qualifying tournament is later this weekend

The state meet at Heritage High School saw 22 schools and about 300 competitors. Events saw up to 45 competitors each.

And none of them said “like,” one single time.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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