Members of the Montrose High School speech and debate team

Members of the Montrose High School speech and debate team, from left, Zachary Vincent, Kaydee Lucero, Angela Comstock and Jacky Salazar pose with gavels and the team’s 2018 trophy on Thursday at MHS. 

If you ask Zachary Vincent what he’s passionate about, he will quickly tell you — world events.

Topics he recently spoke on included Nigeria’s new president; Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro and how long he will remain in power; and Iran and how it is affected by tariffs and sanctions.

That passion brought him to the Montrose High School speech and debate team, for which he competes in International Extemporaneous Speaking, or IES. This past weekend, the team took part in the state competition, where he placed fourth overall in his event in his first year with the team.

“I was surprised that I went to state,” Vincent said, noting he only took third in his event at the district level. “So I was going just to enjoy it see, as Kaydee (Lucero) see other people’s work, just marvel at how good they are, and all of a sudden, I ended up making it to semifinals ... I was really surprised but really excited … then I made it to finals… and I was really surprised.”

Vincent said a big part of his event is keeping up with international news. Recently, he had a lot of time to catch up on current events. After placing third, Vincent went back, refined his approach and tried some new things.

The IES event is impromptu, meaning Vincent does not know what he will be talking about, so he must be prepared to talk about anything happening in the world outside the U.S. Because they are not allowed to use the internet during competition, competitors collect news articles and documents on various topics in hopes that one of the topics will be offered during that round.

Each round, competitors are given three topics to choose from and discuss. Vincent said he had 30 minutes to write and memorize a seven-minute speech on one of those topics.

Vincent said knowing about current events is something he feels is important. He said members of the the younger generation should keep up as well, because they are the future leaders.

“In social studies, that’s my thing, that’s my favorite thing,” Vincent said. “So to get the opportunity, like the outlet, to talk about all these things that I know. Mostly it’s that I like to learn about things that are happening in the world, and this allows me to express how much I like that.”

MHS speech and debate team captain Angela Comstock said the team qualified to perform a few weeks before state. State lasts two days: the first day is three rounds per event; day two is semifinals and finals for each event.

Going to state, Vincent said, meant being among the best of the best.

Comstock said those who attended state were able to grow, which was great for her to see as a captain.

Assistant coach Brian Bryngelson said the team is very close and has been fun to coach.

He highlighted the work the seniors did with the lower classmen and helping out with things like bringing snacks and teaching the MHS legacy.

“Zach did incredibly well; it’s his first year doing the event and just to watch his grow throughout this season has been crazy,” Bryngelson said. “He came in to speech and debate already with the background knowledge, loving to talk about forign policy and Brexit and these international topics. So immediately coach Wagner and I were just, like, this is the event for you. This could not be a more perfect fit.”

Coaches helped show Vincent how to speak effectively. He just needed to learn the style and way, Bryngelson said.

As a sophomore, Vincent is planning on coming back to the team next year. He said although he is in band and the recently premiered “Mamma Mia” musical, speech and debate is what he enjoys most.

“Speech and debate is a really unique community,” Vincent said. “It’s very welcoming and accepting, and the kind of people that go to speech and debate are the kind of people who you want to sit on a freezing bus with at 6 a.m. in the morning.”

Monica Garcia is the news editor at the Montrose Daily Press.

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