Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

Bobcat speech and debate team claims state championship


April 30, 2020

Hot Springs County High School’s Bobcat Speech and Debate team brought home the State Championship for 1A/2A last weekend.

The team was on the road headed to the State Tournament in Green River on March 12 when they received the call that the Wyoming High School Activities Association (WHSAA) had cancelled the tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the next few days, the WHSAA agreed the Wyoming Speech and Debate Association could hold the tournament if they could guarantee the safety measures in place were adhered to, and now, several weeks later the Bobcats got their chance to shine.

With the use of technology, students were able to pre-record events like drama, oratory, poetry and humor, while a program was put in place using Zoom for live events such as debate, congress and extemp.

Senior Hannah Hu placed second at State with her original oratory as well as placing first in 1A/2A.

Senior Amie Robinson brought home fifth place in drama from State as well as first place for 1A/2A. Senior Taydee Landrum placed second in drama in 1A/2A.

Senior Tyler Kay made the stage, awarded fifth place in poetry at State along with a first place win in 1A/2A.

Another senior, Breeze Petty, was a double threat being named Best Chair for her congress chamber on the state level and then placing first in congress and first in LD debate for 1A/2A.

Kyle Mosser, also a senior, made it as far as semi-finals in humor on the state level and placed second for 1A/2A.

Not to be outdone by the senior class, sophomore Jean-Luc Willson got into semi-finals in extemp and then placed first in 1A/2A. He was followed by sophomore Josiah Butler who placed third in 1A/2A, and finally sophomore Jacob Randall in fourth place for 1A/2A.

Willson also placed second in LD debate.

In addition to Petty in congress, senior Taydee Landrum placed second in 1A/2A and freshman Brooklyn Cooley placed fourth.

“The Bobcat Speech and Debate team has special talent and drive that we all knew about going into the close of the season,” said coach Lyle Wiley. “They were dominant throughout the year, and brought the fight to every tournament.

“We knew going into State that this team had a great shot at bringing home a banner for Thermopolis. But, we learned even more about the resilience of this team by the way they responded to the adversity of competing in an unprecedented online tournament weeks after what we all though might be our season’s end.”

Coach Cindy Glasson recalled the moment they received the call the tournament had been cancelled.

“We were nearly there,” she said, referring to the trip to Green River. “I got the message just after we got over the pass and we stopped at Farson to confirm it. There were a couple of other buses of kids headed the same way and the looks of total confusion were really hard to see.

“What started out as an exciting end to their season was suddenly tear-filled. Even we, as coaches were feeling gut wrenching disappointment.

“Fortunately, the WHSAA didn’t completely close the door on us and worked with us to make the tournament happen and our kids did exactly what we predicted they would do – win a State Championship.”

“They truly are champions,” Wiley said, “and I am blessed to have the chance to coach these fabulous students with Cindy. The seniors will be missed greatly, but they are leaving an appropriate legacy of hard work and dedication.

“This State Championship means a whole lot. These students have accomplished something truly amazing.”

Glasson says it feels like a bittersweet moment.

“Letting these kids go is going to be very tough,” she said. “They’ve gone from not knowing how to read the postings at tournaments to absolutely dominating the circuit. There is so much talent here that they’re going to be hard to replicate in years to come.

“I cannot say often enough how proud I am of this team and how they held it together to reach this goal.”


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