ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs High School Speech and Debate Team took third overall in the 4A Division State Competition.
The competition took place in Cheyenne earlier in March and 15 RSHS students attended. Head coach Stephanie Cozzens said every team regardless of size or classification is given 20 spots to fill. Some students compete as a team, which counts as a single entry, Cozzens explained.
Cozzens, who is in her seventh year as head coach, had Jacob Webb and Heather Luzmoor added to the coaching staff this season. “The team members they worked with were very successful and both Mr. Webb and Ms. Luzmoor were key to our qualifications for nationals and success at State at the end of the season,” Cozzens said.
The team was proud to take third at state despite experiencing some hiccups throughout the season.
“We had a difficult season. The district made some changes as to how our team can function which meant we we had to significantly alter our tournament schedule,” Cozzens said. “Consequently, our varsity started competing a month later than the rest of the state and we were not able to take our top competitors to many tournaments that challenged them. It is a credit to our team that they had the success they did with the barriers they had to overcome.”
Cozzens said the team showed true Tiger spirit and pride and wouldn’t let obstacles get in the way of their success.
“We never give up, even when we are are operating under restrictions that no other team in the state has to deal with and coping with changes in our coaching staff,” Cozzens said.
Sophomore Clarine Luzmoor earned an individual state championship by placing first in Extemporaneous Speaking both in 4A and overall.
Dawson Fantin took second in Humorous Interpretation, 4A and overall. He was also a semifinalist in Dramatic Interpretation.
Hallie Cozzens placed third in Informative Speaking and fifth in Program Oral Interpretation.
Luzmoor, Fantin and Hallie Cozzens were also 2023 All-State competitors.
Cienna Bennet also advanced to elimination rounds, placing sixth in Extemporaneous Speaking and quarterfinals in Public Forum Debate with partner Clarine Luzmoor. Bailey Anderson was a finalist in Congressional Debate.
Skylynn Harmon was a semifinalist in Informative Speaking.
Sophia Cozzens was a semifinalist in Original Oratory.
Not only did the team do well at state, but prior to that, they had six teammates qualify for nationals. “This is a smaller number than we have become accustomed to from this team, but it matches the most any other coach in RSHS team history sent; when the team qualified six team members in 1941,” Cozzens said.
The team hosted and competed in the Wind River District National Qualifying Tournament February 18-25. Cienna Bennett, Clarine Luzmoor and Ryan Madsen will compete in World Schools Debate; Hallie Cozzens and Skylynn Harmon qualified in Informative Speaking; Dawson Fantin qualified in Humorous Interpretation. Competitors are limited to a single main event at the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament, but it is worth noting that Bennett also qualified in Big Question Debate and United States Extemporaneous Speaking. Bennett and Public Forum Debate Partner Clarine Luzmoor are first alternates in that event as well. Luzmoor also qualified in International Extemporaneous Speaking; Fantin also qualified in Dramatic Interpretation and Hallie Cozzens also qualified in Program Oral Interpretation.
Several team members are on the alternate list. Sophia Cozzens is first alternate in Program Oral Interpretation and Adalynn Berrett is the third alternate. Bailey Anderson is first alternate in Congressional Debate. Tori Hester is second alternate in informative speaking, and Izabelle Hale and Gavin Robbins are third alternates in Policy Debate.
“The National Speech and Debate Association offers a Last Chance Qualifier Tournament in late April, and many of our team members intend to compete in this national online event,” Cozzens said. “We did have one team member qualify through this event last season and we like our chances again this year.”