Ethan Andersch and Hallie Kellicut led the Butte Central Maroons to state-meet qualifying finishes at the Western A Divisional Speech and Debate tournament held in Columbia Falls over the weekend.

Andersch, who added Extemporaneous Speaking to his arsenal this year, placed second in both Extemporaneous and Impromptu Speaking. Ethan rode a string of first place finishes in his preliminary and semifinal extemporaneous rounds and was still in the hunt for the divisional championship headed into the final round. However, a tough field in the finals saw him collect scores of 3, 4, and 5 in his final round, securing a second-place medal and a trip to the state meet which will be held Jan. 28 in Sidney.

Andersch added to his medal count by dazzling the judges with his dexterous discourse in the impromptu speaking event. His quick thinking and eloquence garnered him the second place medal and earned him a second consecutive trip to state for the event. Andersch finished in third place at the state meet last year in impromptu speaking.

Kellicut, a junior, placed third in Memorized Public Address, impressing the judges with her poise and unique insight for her presentation and analysis of a speech originally given by poet Amanda Gorman to secure her in her third trip to the state meet. Kellicut placed fifth at the state meet last year.

Joining Andersch and Kellicut will be sophomore Jim Bradshaw who made the transition from Lincoln-Douglas Debate to Memorized Public Address this year. Bradshaw’s analysis and presentation of Taylor Mali’s poem “What Teachers Make” notched him a ninth-place finish, therefore making the cut to represent the Maroons at state.

The Western A sends the top 12 finishers in each event to the state tournament. Joe Bradshaw, a Butte Central 8th-grader, was selected as an alternate, finishing 14th in informative speaking.

Head coach Sabrina Holland-Kump is excited about her team’s chances headed into state.

“This team has worked incredibly hard this year and has shown consistent results,” she said. “No matter the event, these students are willing to put in the time and effort. They absolutely deserve every success that has come their way and I can’t wait to see how they perform at state, next year, and in the future.”

Holland-Kump also points out that despite the fact that each student competes individually, they are team-focused and support each other in every endeavor. The coaching staff, including Kevin Edgar, have encouraged and worked with each student to make sure they reach their full potential.

— Story by Kevin Edgar