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Hilltalkers send 13 speakers, debaters to national tourney

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The Los Alamos High School Hilltalkers Speech and Debate team has announced their 2019 qualifiers for the National Tournament to be held in June in Dallas, Texas.

The Hilltalkers sent 13 speakers and debaters to compete at the New Mexico National Speech and Debate Association National Qualifying Tournament at Albuquerque Academy on March 21-23.

Of those 13, eight Hilltalkers advanced to the national tournament. Qualifying to compete at the national tournament includes double-elimination rounds in speech and debate events.

All 13 Hilltalkers who competed made it out of preliminary rounds and, in many cases, were finalists and alternates in their events.

Only those placing first or second place can advance to compete at the national tournament in June.

Of the eight Hilltalkers who qualified, seven of them are products of the Los Alamos Middle School Speech and Debate program.

“I’m so proud of the hard work and preparation that all of our Hilltalkers put into their events. The National Qualifying tournament is extremely competitive and these students rose to the occasion,” said LAHS Hilltalkers Speech and Debate Coach Margo Batha.

The following students qualified to compete at the national tournament:

* Antonio Dowdy - Lincoln Douglas Debate

* Malea Joyce - Informative Speaking

* Nilesh Mukundan - United States Extemporaneous Speaking

* Neha Sadasivan - Original Oratory

* Emily Holmes, Gopal Nadiga, Sam Menefee, and Sonyia Williams - New Mexico World Schools Debate team

The National Qualifying Tournament caps a strong season for the Hilltalkers and the Hawktalkers. The Hilltalkers competed in multiple tournaments in New Mexico and traveled to tournaments in Texas and Illinois.
At the New Mexico State Speech tournament in February, students placed in multiple events including:

* Eleanor Henderson - first place, Humorous Interpretation

* Antonio Dowdy - first place, US Extemporaneous Speaking

* Leah Wolfsberg - third place, Humorous Interpretation

* Malea Joyce - finalist, Original Oratory and Informative Speaking

* Gopal Nadiga - finalist, International Extemporaneous Speaking

* Lexi Alcala - finalist, International Extemporaneous Speaking

* Carlos and Miguel Chacon - third place, Duo Interpretation

* Sonyia Williams - finalist, Dramatic Interpretation

* Olivia Koo - finalist, Informative Speaking

* Ellery Leirmo - finalist, Original Oratory

At the state debate tournament in March, seniors Antonio Dowdy and Sam Menefee tied for first place in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Dowdy also brought home the William and Cat Bennett trophy for Outstanding Speaker in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Dowdy was also a finalist in Congressional Debate. Additionally, Hawktalker Yun Kim was a finalist in State Congressional Debate.

To fundraise for the Hilltalkers’ travel to Dallas and next year’s expenses for the Hilltalkers and the Hawktalkers, the team is planning a High Tea Showcase at Fuller Lodge at 2 p.m. May 5. The Hilltalkers will perform their award-winning speeches and there will be musical entertainment.

Tickets for the showcase are $20 each and include refreshments. To purchase tickets for the showcase, contact Sherri Bublitz at s.bublitz@laschools.net.