Logan High School and Green Canyon took first and second respectively in the state speech and debate championships this year, finishing out a strong season for both teams that may spark a new rivalry.
Four Cache Valley high schools placed at the state competition, including Sky View in sixth place and Ridgeline in 11th.
Green Canyon beat Logan High School in regionals, which Logan High won in 2016 and 2017, Logan High School coach Quentin Unsworth said.
“Last year they won it pretty easily, by about 60 points,” Unsworth said. “They were a little disappointed in how things turned out. I think I was too. But we just tried to focus on putting everything we had toward state.”
He said the Logan High team learned an important lesson from its defeat at regionals and victory at state.
“They were able to learn that one day it may not go so well, but if you put the work in you can turn it around,” Unsworth said.
Unsworth said the team’s victory showed them the power of hard work.
“We compete against a lot of the Salt Lake schools. A lot of those programs are really big,” he said, adding that many have more paid coaches and more support. “I think sometimes the kids see that and think that’s what makes the difference.”
While that would help, Unsworth said, it’s not what really matters.
“It’s about how hard the kids are willing to work,” he said. “That’s the message I keep telling them. It was nice for them to see that they don’t need all of that, necessarily, to win.”
Gordon Peer, debate coach at Green Canyon, said his team is also happy with the season’s outcome. Peer said this was the team’s first year, in addition to being the youngest team in the state.
“Our average age is 14 and a half,” Peer said.
Their victory at regionals and second-place win at state made for a strong start, Peer said. Peer was named the 4A speech and debate Coach of the Year by the Utah High School Activities Association.
“It’s a testament to the kids,” Peer said. “They dug in and started to attack these varsity kids in the valley and the state in a way I’ve never seen.”
Unsworth said his team welcomes the competition.
“They’re going to be really powerful, and I think it’s a good thing that they’re in our area,” Unsworth said. “I think it drives both programs. I know they bring out the best in my kids, and I hope that my kids bring out the best in them.”
Competing in debate teaches students some of the skills that help them succeed in life, Unsworth said.
“I think a lot of kids kind of view it as that geeky activity, and I guess it is to a certain degree,” he said. “But you know, geeks and nerds rule the world.”