If you thought the Jackson Hole High School speech and debate team was done crushing competitions, you were wrong.
The national tournament ran from June 13 to 20, and the largest-ever contingent of students competed this year — 13 of them.
Although the local kids didn’t bring home any hardware, they had standout showings that eclipsed the performances of previous debaters.
Senior team captain Josh Hansen and incoming team captain Will Aepli went to the ninth round in Public Forum Debate, three rounds past the preliminaries and further than any Jackson team before them. They argued the topic of whether social media is beneficial for the democratic values of the United States.
Individually, the two impressed in Editorial Commentary as well, with Aepli reaching the quarterfinals and Hansen bowing out one round earlier, and they reached the double octofinals (top 64 competitors) in the Prepared Prompt competition, in which they selected a topic then wrote and delivered five-minute speeches.
Hansen also reached the double octofinals in a new event, the Pro Con Challenge, that required him to submit speeches on both sides of a debate.
The Jackson team also showed up for the Extemporaneous Speaking competition.
In each round, the participants had just 30 minutes to prepare a speech on a new topic. Incoming team captain Carter Worchester went to the seventh round, while Hansen made the sixth and sophomore Alexis Hernandez the fifth.
The strong performances, both at this tournament and throughout the season, led to some individual honors, too. Hansen finished as the No. 2 delegate in the country, and Aepli will enter next season in ninth nationally because of his strong showings.
Aepli and junior Lily Briggs were also named National Speech and Debate Association All-Americans this year.
Both team coaches, Peggy and Londe Gagnon, were selected to judge the final round of an event. Londe Gagnon also received a bronze award from the speech and debate association for her work as the Wind River District chair.