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Speech and Debate National Qualifiers

By Meena Ropp

On Friday, March 6th, and Saturday March 7th, the Centennial students competed in the annual speech and debate National Qualifying Tournament.

During this grueling, two day meet, the students competed against various Colorado schools in a quest to advance to the speech and debate national competition.

Each competitor was promised two definite rounds to present, typically with four to six other students in a room to compete with and one judge.

Out of these competitors, only the top half of the students would receive an up in their round, which further implied that a student receiving two downs would be eliminated from the tournament.

The goal behind this chaos was to narrow down the competitors in each event to a finals round of around six people, with two to three advancing to the national’s competition and the others receiving alternate awards.

With two waves of competitors, referring to the separate timing of half of the events, and each round taking at least an hour, the first day ranged from around 9 to 11 hours depending on if each competitor received two downs during the day.

Finally, after another exhausting day, the judges eliminated enough students in each event to proclaim the winners and the national qualifiers.

One Centennial qualifier, Ben Christoferson, advanced to nationals in dramatic interpretation in second place.

“I’m a senior so it’s great to have made it this far after four hard years of work,” Christoferson explains.

Another competitor, Joli Dou, qualified for nationals in Lincoln - Douglas debate.

“I worked pretty hard for this and I'm so excited to go to nationals and show them what I’ve got.”

During the awards ceremony, the coaches presented each other with awards to congratulate their fellow teachers for a job well done, and each of their special contributions to the speech and debate program.

Centennial’s coach, David Montera, was presented with an award thanking him for his long, dedicated years of teaching, his impact on his students’ lives, and the humor he brought to the tab room.

Also, since this was the final competition before the state and national tournaments, the senior competitors were also acknowledged.

Each senior student was given a chance to tell the other competitors their name, how many years they participated in speech and debate, and their plans for college and careers.

Some students, having many friends and fellow competitors in the audience, decided to include inside jokes in their short speeches to give the event something to remember them by.

After many long, dedicated hours of work and years of making long lasting friends, the national qualifiers are looking forward to the upcoming large tournaments.

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