It is a race to the divisional and state meets for the Choteau High School apeech and srama team.

The team made its first stop on the race at the Three Forks tournament on Jan. 9. The final regular season tournament will be hosted Jan. 16 by Great Falls Central Catholic. The Northern Divisional tournament will be on Jan. 23 and the State Class B and C tournament on Jan. 30. All events continue to be held virtually with competitors competing from their individual schools.

At the Three Forks-hosted tournament, Hailey Alzheimer led the team with a first-place finish in informative speaking. Coming in fourth place were Tori Newmiller and Savanah Stane in dramatic theater, Ella Birkeland, Eleanor Lee and Soren Cummings in humorous theater and Katie Major in pantomime. Rounding out the team was Robbie Lesofski placing 14th in humorous oral interpretation.

Choteau speech and drama coach Cody Marney said Alzheimer is one of the most eloquent speakers Choteau has seen. “Her speech really deals with some uncomfortable medical procedures, but she does it in such a way that you feel right at home,” he said. “She now has ignited the fire that is needed to carry her through to the state tournament.”

“Tori and Savannah are now in a position that they know their piece, they know their characters and they know their routine,” Marney said of the dramatic theater duo. “They have spent countless hours working on this duo and it shows and they are heading into the second half of the season strong.”

Marney said there was another change to the humorous theater lineup with the addition of Ella Birkeland to Lee’s and Cummings’ comedic rendition of the “Target Lady” from Saturday Night Live. “Ella fit right into the group and really helped propel the trio to the top half of placing” the coach said. “Having two seasoned performers working with a new addition has really pushed Ella to overcome and perform at a much higher level.”

“Ella said that this season for her as a freshman is ‘normal,’ and she looks forward to next season when she gets the full speech and drama experience,” Marney shared. “She also mentioned that while she performs with two seniors, all the high school status drops away and they get to be friends.”

In talking about Major, Marney said she has worked hard the last week with volunteer coach Susie Ewinger to bring out the facial expressions and body movements associated with mime. “She has to tell an entire story with acting alone,” Marney pointed out. “She is still working out the kinks, but the piece is right on the edge.”

Lesofski has placed similarly over the last several meets but has always been within points of moving to the final round, Marney said. “We are going to keep the same piece but move to humorous solo for the remainder of the season. I feel that there is an actor inside of Robbie that is screaming to get out and a speech category is not allowing for the best possible performance.”

“As a team, Christmas break was a much-needed rest time,” Marney said. “During the first meet of the new year, the team came in very aggressive and hungry for the top spot. We are seeing the entire team come together at the perfect time and really remind Lisette and I what speech and drama is all about.”