Eagle County debate students advance to nationals | VailDaily.com

Eagle County debate students advance to nationals

The Eagle Valley contingent at last weekend's qualifier for the the National Forensic League's national finals were, from left, coach, Abbie Ritmiller, Zoe Thrasher, Jason Cirkovic, Byron Crawford, Maddi Buffington, coach Mary Ann Stavney.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Of course they were tired, pouring their hearts out seven times in a day and a half. But Zoe Thrasher and Jake Dutmer are performers, so they acted like they weren’t.

Thrasher, an Eagle Valley High School junior, and Dutmer, a Battle Mountain senior, topped a field of dozens of high school debaters competing in their event, qualifying for the National Forensics League’s national finals, scheduled for June in Dallas.

They’ll be making the trip with Battle Mountain’s Jamie Overcash and Blaize Olle, who qualified for nationals in Duo Interpretation by finishing second, and by Battle Mountain’s Remsen Allard, who qualified for the nationals in Humor Interpretation.

For the record, Dutmer and Thrasher have squared off before. At this spring’s Colorado state speech festival, Dutmer won the state title in their event and Thrasher was second.

The rubber match is June in Texas.

Most presentations run 10 minutes and by the time they were done late Saturday night, Thrasher and Dutmer, Overcash and Olle, and Allard and Battle Mountain’s Bailey Garton had done it at least seven times. Garton, who won two state titles, finished third in Humor Interpretation.

The top two go to nationals.

To get to last weekend’s national qualifier in Niwot, competitors had to finish in the top six at the state meet.

“It’s amazing that we have two kids from the same school district going to the finals in one event,” said Mary Ann Stavney, Eagle Valley’s coach.

They usually do three rounds during their season. In a bigger event like the state meet there might be a fourth round, but nothing like this marathon.

“This year’s national qualifier was a lesson in stamina,” said Suzanne Foster, Battle Mountain’s speech and debate coach.

They started 3 p.m. Friday, and finished at 11 p.m. Saturday.

“They find the energy from somewhere,” said Abbie Rittmiller, one of Eagle Valley’s coaches.

Eagle Valley’s program is in its third year. They and Battle Mountain comported themselves admirably against programs from Boulder County, Fort Collins and Greeley.

The material is stern stuff.

Thrasher depicts a girl with a multiple personality disorder. She has killed her father and is talking to the doctor. In her 10-minute piece, she talks to her audience, a sheriff and the doctor, all in the voices of three distinct characters: Pat, the tough girl; Lisa, an innocent naïve child; and Kaylee, a provocative, sensual character.

“Kaylee handles the abuse much differently than the other two,” Thrasher said.

Dutmer put together his Dramatic Interpretation from the musical “Assassins.” As Sam Byck, he recorded himself outlining his assassination plans. In the first half, he’s preparing a recording for Leonard Bernstein about Sam Bick’s plans to kill Richard Nixon. The second half was a recording to Richard Nixon about the same thing.

Eagle Valley’s Maddi Buffington made it through to the semifinals.

Eagle Valley’s Jason Cirkovic competed in Original Oratory with a piece about 9/11 conspiracy theories. He had to be prepared to represent both sides. Both sides arrive at the same conclusion.

“It’s your decision. Something was wrong here,” Cirkovic said.

Eagle Valley’s Byron Crawford jumped in at what passes for the last minute in the debate world. He had three weeks to prepare to argue both sides of whether the United States is justified in using private firms abroad to pursue its military objectives.

“After spending so much time constructing both sides, I can convince myself of either,” he said.

He made it through four rounds.

“That was impressive for his first shot at this,” Rittmiller said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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