Battle Mountain sweeps to another state speech and debate title |

Battle Mountain sweeps to another state speech and debate title

Battle Mountain High School's speech team won their second state title in three years.
Special to the Daily |

How locals fared

Original Oratory

1. Hailea Stone, Battle Mountain

2. Sam Litt, Battle Mountain

3. Luke McKeever, Battle Mountain

4. Kendal Sego, Battle Mountain

5. Lydia Loupe, Eagle Valley

Duet Acting – Humor

1. Garvin van Dernott and Camryn Woodworth, Battle Mountain

2. Mack Callicrate and Elena Ortiz, Battle Mountain

4. Lydia Ruotolo and Axi Manning, Battle Mountain

Duet Acting – Drama

1. Luke McKeever and Naomi Kuntz, Battle Mountain

Contrasting Monologues

5. Kalista Farmer, Eagle Valley

Impromptu Speaking

4. Brielle Kromer, Eagle Valley

5. John Papadopoulos, Eagle Valley

6. Audrey Plzak, Battle Mountain

Poetry Interpretation

6. Jillian Byron, Eagle Valley

Drama Interpretation

4. Naomi Kuntz, Battle Mountain

Humor Interpretation

2. Alissa Barry, Eagle Valley

5. Gage Harper, Eagle Valley

6. Lukah Katauskus, Battle Mountain

Public Forum Debate

2. Audrey Plzak and Noah Seeman, Battle Mountain

7. Parker Labine and John Papadopoulos, Eagle Valley

8. Tobin Stone and Collin Jenkins, Eagle Valley

10. Aynsley Gehman and Graziella Pierangeli, Battle Mountain

Lincoln Douglas Debate

3. Caleb Dennis, Battle Mountain

Creative Storytelling

3. Ryan Boeke, Eagle Valley

4. Eliot Hutchinson, Battle Mountain

5. Caroline Dewell, Eagle Valley

One-on-One Value Debate

3. Will Katauskus, Battle Mountain

6. Hannah Nelson, Battle Mountain

8. Jake Papadopoulos and Riley Dudley, Eagle Valley

9. Caleb Dennis, Battle Mountain

EDWARDS — Wander into Diane Wagener’s Battle Mountain High School classroom and almost every kid is talking excitedly. Wagener’s speech and debate team just won another state title, their second in three years, so yes, they have great reason to be excited.

It gets better.

They swept the top four places in original oratory, took three of the top four in duo humor, and won duo drama.

Two years ago Battle Mountain boasted five state champions, and five more this year.

They’ve sent competitors to the nationals three straight years, and two of those national qualifiers — Hailea Stone and Sam Litt — were back for this year’s state title run. Both are juniors. Stone won this year’s oratory title, Litt won second.

Battle Mountain has been producing state champions for 25 years in addition to all the national qualifiers.

That means this: Battle Mountain is a speech and debate school. Everyone else is trying to keep up.

Leadership matters

Like all teams, leadership matters, said Wagener, Battle Mountain’s coach for the last six years. Senior co-captains Garvin van Dernoot and Camryn Woodworth won their state duo humor title.

“Our captains are strong, and that makes the team strong,” Wagener said.

Woodworth and van Dernoot know each other so well they finish each other’s sentences, but they’re a duo. That’s their job.

Battle Mountain has won the duo humor state title three of the last four years.

They remember their individual victories, but those team victories mean more, they said.

“It’s amazing sometimes how well the team does. We’ll sweep entire events,” van Dernoot said.

“The team has had a very successful year,” Woodworth said.

Lessons learned

At last year’s nationals, Stone and Litt watched and learned — and learned some more.

Fellow competitors and coaches taught them about the structure of their speech, presentation and tips for memorizing it.

Both substance and style matter, they said.

“The more energy you have the better you do,” Litt said.

Stone was first and Witt second in this year’s state finals. Luke McKeever was third and Kendal Sego fourth.

The four Battle Mountain orators have been swapping spots all season, Wagener said.

In original oratory you write your own material, and you write what you know. Stone’s family knows what it’s like to be Samoan and to immigrate. She lays her soul bare in her 10 minute presentation.

“It’s get more personal as it goes along,” Stone said.

Litt’s piece is about “competitive humility,” and was sparked by a biology teacher. When he earned the best score on a test, his teacher said, “Do you know what’s really sexy?” Then handed him a slip of paper with one word, “Humility.”

“I thought, ‘There’s no better fuel for a speech than that!’”

Every meet they sense something that needs to be changed, and they change it. Those changes never end, Litt said.

“An original oratory is never a final piece. It’s always a rough draft,” Litt said. “I live by that. It can always be improved.”

Works in progress

As with most competitors, Woodworth’s and van Dernoot’s duo humor piece remains a work in progress. Sometimes progress happens at record speeds.

“We started the season with one piece and ended it with a different piece. We didn’t like our first piece very much, and didn’t do well with it,” van Dernoot said.

In the season’s first competitino they tried it and finished last. So out it went.

They know what works for them and what they’ve seen work for other teams.

“That’s what guides you in your search,” Woodworth said.

After they trashed their old piece, Woodworth and van Dernoot picked up “Paddle Your Own Canoe,” by Nick Offerman. He plays Ron Swanson on TV’s “Parks and Recreation.”

They had a week to find their new piece, boil the book down to 10 minutes of material, cut it and block it. Then they dove into competition. They won.

They do not have the “artistic differences” that plague other duos: Lennon and McCartney or Simon and Garfunkel.

They disagree, sure, but they agree that they won’t be disagreeable about it.

The pair finished fourth last year in the state. They barely missed qualifying for nationals last year. Experience matters.

“You get a feel for what the experience is like and how to compete at that level,” Woodworth said.

Speech and debate is big with thousands of competitors across Colorado, but they see many of the same teams throughout the year.

Battle Mountain knows who’s good. They are.

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

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