‘Pinnacle of speechiness’ – BMHS speech contestants
EAGLE-VAIL – Josie Sutner was pretty sure she’d just blown it. Phil Qualman knew better.It was the weekend of Jan. 27, the state speech meet at Heritage High School in Englewood. Sutner, a senior at Battle Mountain High School, had been up past midnight the night before, making her way through the ranks of the “Value Debate” competition. After that late night, Sutner had to be back at Heritage High by 8 a.m. the morning of Jan. 28.Working the way she had the day before, Sutner got a topic on current events – in this case whether or not legalizing recreational drugs would be better than the current “war” on them – and had a half-hour to do enough research to debate either side of the issue. She argued for legalization that morning, and was sure she’d come up short.But Qualman, the assistant coach saw something better.”Phil came out and said she’d really kicked it,” said Suzanne Foster, head coach of the Battle Mountain speech team.Qualman was right. Soon after, Sutner came away with a state championship.’Never too cocky’In another room at Heritage that morning, junior Rebecca Richardson was again portraying a person with multiple personalities in the “Solo Acting” competition.
With only a chair for a prop, Richardson worried about how she’d done with her piece about someone with multiple personalities, running through three distinct personalities in only 10 minutes.”It kind of creeps people out when they see pieces about multiple personalities,” Richardson said. In this case, it was a good kind of creepy, and Richardson also came away with a state championship.While Foster has been working with speech students at Battle Mountain for years, this is the first time her kids have come away with championships in two categories.”Both of them are never too cocky about how they’ve done,” Foster said. “They never get complacent.”The Battle Mountain speech team did pretty well at state, with 12 students finishing in the top 12 in their events. But with kids from large and small schools competing together, no school dominated the competition, Foster said. With 27 schools represented at the tournament, 15 of those schools had at least a few top finishers.’Pinnacle of speechiness’ In the world of speech tournaments, a lot of the kids competed against students they’d seen before this season.In the quarterfinals of the debate event, Sutner’s opponent was a girl from University High School in Greeley who had beaten her earlier this season. This time, it was Sutner’s turn.
“It came down to stamina in the end,” Sutner said. “By the end of the first day I did five debates.”Richardson had to keep her edge, too, assuming the different personalities of her character three times before her final performance.For Sutner, her high school speech career ends the way it started. She won a state championship as a freshman. Sutner, who’s going to Columbia University this fall, said she might try out for the speech team there, but, typically, wonders if she’s good enough.”They’re going to be awfully good,” she said.After her performance at this state meet, Richardson, who said she wants to pursue acting in college, wants another, title too.”I want to say I’ve reached the pinnacle of my speechiness,” she said. “But I want to come back and try it again.”Staff writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624 or at email@example.comVail Daily, Vail, Colorado