Speech and Debate competed last weekend in Riverside and Thermopolis

Erin Mullins

Speech and Debate Coach John Mickelson said the first meet of 2024 was “knocking the cobwebs off.”
The first meet of 2024 was rusty, Mickelson said, but the kids still competed well. He said that he did not have any individuals place in the meet like he normally does. Additionally, there were a few team members who were sick and could not compete last weekend.
Mickelson said that some strong performers in the meet were Katie Badget and Rachel Pope. He said that a performer who is improving well this year is freshman Peyton Hernandez.
Despite the results being subpar for the season, he is not disappointed with the team members and is trying to create a positive atmosphere. He said that teenagers today need a positive atmosphere.
For speech, Lillian Wenstrom did a poetry interpretation piece, which Mickelson said was very nice.
Mickelson said that due to the Christmas break, his team lost some speech and debate skills. He does not think they practiced enough individually. But he believes the whole team is poised to do better at future meets. He said the team will make individual adjustments to their pieces to improve them.
“And it’s an individual sport mostly. OK, I joke with the kids because I grew up as a wrestler most of my life. I joke with them that there’s like, ‘wrestling, with your words,’” he said. “It’s an individual sport for the most part. It’s nice to have a team victory, … but you’re either winning or you’re learning.”
Ireanne Anderson wasn’t able to attend the meet, but Mickelson said she will be at the meet next week and will compete, which will help the team. He said the team score placed around the middle of the competition at the meet.
“We try to steer our kids more down a positive note and have a good time with it. There’s enough negativity in the world, especially with the current generation. It’s harder for them to find positive things, and we like them to find more positive things to have,” Mickelson said. “There’s still a lot of time this season for us to make adjustments and to still come out on top. This plays at state mentality.”