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By Cyd Lass
Staff Writer 

4 WHS students return from National Speech and Debate


July 4, 2019

WORLAND – Recently, four Worland High School students went to National Speech and Debate in Dallas, Texas, to participate in multiple events and categories alongside some of the best in the country.

These students were Zoe Fernandez and Madeline Martinson in world school debate and Jade Hefenieder and Nathaniel Nelson in duo.

“We compete in Nationals almost every year,” speech and debate coach Rick Dorn said. “This was year 28 for Worland.”

According to Dorn, Nelson and Hefenieder placed in the middle of the pack, meaning they were placing second, third and fourth in rounds. Martinson and Fernandez finished with a 2-10 record, meaning two judges had chosen them to win while 10 did not.


For most of the National Qualifiers, this isn’t their first year with speech and debate. Zoe Fernandez qualified for nationals last year.

“I knew what to expect, but it was way different going into Dallas,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez took part of World Schools Debate. This is a unique and dynamic form of debate that’s unlike any others practiced in the United States. According to, it has a dynamic format combining “prepared” topics with “impromptu” topics, encouraging debaters to focus on specific issues rather than debate theory or procedural arguments. Worlds Schools Debate allows debaters to engage with each other, even during speeches.

Fernandez has been in speech and debate since her freshman year. She will be a senior this coming semester. She said that she will continue to do speech and debate and would like to qualify for nationals again so she can carry on the team and be successful.

“It was pretty cool. I wasn’t expecting to qualify again this year,” she said.

Other categories Fernandez participated in this season were policy debate and congressional debate. She also participates in drama with the Worland High School. She said her favorite part of this trip was getting to meet special guest Jared Padalecki, her favorite actor who is mostly known for his role as Sam Winchester from “Supernatural” and his appearances in the show “Gilmore Girls.”

Also turning heads this year was Jade Hefenieder. This was Hefenieder’s first year with speech and debate. She was partnered with Nathaniel Nelson, doing a duo performance in interpretive.

According to, in duo “interp,” competitors team up to deliver a 10 minute performance of a published play or story. Using off-stage focus, competitors convey emotion and environment through a variety of performance techniques focusing on the relationships and interactions between the characters. No props or costumes are used.

Hefenieder said she enjoyed going to nationals and getting to hang out with everyone. She described it as being very crowded with a lot of great pieces.

“There were a lot of talented people,” Hefenieder said. “It was a great competition for us.”

As a first-year competitor with speech and debate, making it to nationals is considered difficult to do.

“It’s not unheard of, but it’s still hard to do,” she explained.

Hefenieder will be a junior this coming semester. She plans on continuing with speech and debate and wants to come back during college to judge competitions. released the top rankings in the state of Wyoming. These rankings are based on points earned by participating in a number of speech and debate activities including interscholastic competition, public speaking events and service activities. Students who earned these rankings in the Big Horn Basin included Ashlyn Ewen from Greybull High School with 1,592 points, placed 24th; Stephanie Jones from Greybull High School with 1,296 points, placed 48th; Nathaniel Nelson from Worland High School with 1,224 points, placed 54th; Eden Hanson from Greybull High School with 1,043 points, placed 70th; Bailee Foster from Greybull High School with 1,025 points, placed 72nd; Baylee Drewry from Greybull High School tied with Tyler Kay from Hot Springs County High School for 76th with 1,003 points; Zoe Fernandez with Worland High School with 979 points, placed 79th; Jack Vines with Worland High School with 973 points, placed 81st; Rachael Carver with Worland High School with 925 points, placed 89th; Madeline Martinson with Worland High School earned 921 points; placing 91st; Cody Butterfield from Worland High School with 897 points, 95th place and Jessie Kysar from Greybull High School with 890 points in 98th place.

Other rankings released included school rankings. These are based on strength, determined by the number of active student degrees in the honor society, plus the top three active coach degrees for the team. Worland High School earned fifth place out of the top 33 schools in Wyoming and 360th place out of the top 500 schools nationwide.


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