Choteau High School students Ellie Lee and Soren Cummings were crowned state champions in dramatic theater at the State Class B/C Tournament held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Bigfork.
Performing a scene from “The Miracle Worker,” the Helen Keller story, the two competed against a tough field at state. Lee played the role of teacher Anne Sullivan while Cummings played Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind. The girls also took ﬁrst place in dramatic theater at the divisional tournament in Shelby.
“Eleanor and Soren stayed in the top spot for the entire day,” said Cody Marney, the Choteau speech and drama coach. “They were ranked first from start to finish.
Tommy Lesofski finished the season with second place in informative speaking. Rounding out the placers were Amber Johnson with seventh place in extemporaneous speaking and Nick Lohf and Terrance O’Neil with eighth place in dramatic theater.
Of the 11 Choteau team members who went to the state tournament, seven advanced to the semifinal round. The drama team tied for third place drama sweeps, but lost a tiebreaker to Baker/Plevna.
Jackson Quillan, competing in dramatic oral interpretation, advanced to the semifinal and missed making it to finals by just a couple points.
“It was great to have the B/C State Tournament return to the Northern Division,” Marney said. “We were also lucky enough to have 11 of 13 of our team members advance to the state tournament. The preliminary rounds are hard because they set the stage for advancing to the semifinal round and then again for the finals round.”
Sisters Rebekah and Katie Major, each competing in humorous solo, and Anna Heimbuck and Jhulliet Maltby doing a duo in classic theater did not make it to semifinals, Marney said, but they left it all in the room this weekend. “It’s always hard when team members don’t continue, but these four ladies got behind their team and supported them throughout the rest of the tournament,” he said.
“Tommy stayed fairly consistent in the top three through the preliminary and semifinal rounds,” Marney said. “Amber admitted to drawing unfamiliar topics in every round but focused on what she knew and landed in the finals.”
“Nick and Terrance truly had the best weekend of their season, consistently pulling number two ratings in preliminaries and four and five ratings in semis,” Marney said.
“State presents a wild range of emotions: excitement because this is what we have been working toward, nervous because the competition has tripled, sad because we don’t advance, excitement again for those that did,” Marney said. “By the time awards start, we are all emotionally and physically exhausted, and it is like entering the Thunderdome. Everyone is excited for everyone else regardless of whether you know them personally or whether they end up placing higher. The love, support and inclusion that is shown in this program is one of the top reasons that Lisette and I continue to coach and build this program.”