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It’s semantic smackdown season for local high schools.

Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley are rivals, but unlike so many other clashes, at this weekend’s State Speech Festival they’ll pontificate as they pound one another.

They’re at Heritage High School in Denver today for the State Speech Festival, where they’re demonstrating why, if you’re ever in really bad trouble, you should hire them to get you out of it.



Either that, or they’ll make you giggle until you forget about it.

To get to the state finals, which began Friday, competitors have to fight through a months-long season. Meets are three rounds and take a full day. They start around 8 a.m. and finish around 6 p.m. Competitors do not get paid overtime. Mush mouth one speech, and you’re out. If you make the final round, you’re in a room with a big crowd.



“It’s intense. It’s endurance debate,” said Mary Ann Stavney, who co-coaches Eagle Valley with Abbie Ritmiller.

Battle Mountain’s Suzanne Foster heads one of the state’s most successful programs.

“We’ve had a couple very good years. We’re taking the most competitors we’ve ever had,” Foster said. “Many students have reached a personal best this season.”



They compile the top scores through the season, and the top four go to the state meet.

“That’s the way it has to be,” Foster said.

Some kids balance two sports, music, speech and debate, and the list goes on and on.

At one point, Foster had nine competitors for one of the debate events. Some peeled off and went to other events, and some left for other activities.

Battle Mountain’s Susanna DeChant stuck with it. She’s the returning state champion in Creative Storytelling. She won both Dramatic Interpretation and Creative Storytelling on Jan. 15 at Roaring Fork High School.

“The pressure is on a little bit, but I think she’ll rise to it and be just fine,” Foster said.

Eagle Valley senior Peter Cirkovic was last year’s state runner-up in Creative Storytelling. He’s at the State Speech Festival this weekend.

“This year we have several very strong competitors returning,” Stavney said.

For Battle Mountain, Andreas Calabrese was a state runner-up last year. He’s back, competing in Value Debate.

For Duet Humorous Interpretation, Battle Mountain’s Jamie Overcash and Blaize Olle brought back Puke and Snot, a Renaissance comedy team that duels with chairs instead of fencing foils.

Both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain had full dress rehearsals this week. Eagle Valley’s was Wednesday in the school’s auditorium. Battle Mountain’s 22nd annual Speech and Sweets was Monday.

If the response from parents and peers is any indication, and of course it is, both teams will be just fine at this weekend’s state meet.

“They’re ready to compete,” Foster said.


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