Bodnar, Zill Finish Top 60 at Speech Nationals

St. Mary’s High School speech and debate team members Ben Bodnar and Daniel Zill had one goal going into the 2019-2020 season—qualify for nationals. That goal had been set last year, when they narrowly missed qualifying for the 2019 National Speech and Debate Tournament. The first weekend in March 2020 Bodnar and Zill accomplished their goal, finishing first in the region in duo interpretation at the Colorado Grande District NSDA National Qualifying Tournament. A week later the world began to change. 

The season started off slowly for Bodnar, now a recent graduate, and Zill, who will be a senior at St. Mary’s next year. They struggled to find a duo interpretation piece they liked as much as the humorous piece they had done last year. Initially neither was thrilled with the piece they settled on, “Old Wicked Songs,” which their coach Jeff Borst suggested. However after practice and polishing their presentation with assistant coach Ethan Hale, they felt it was one of the best in the region as they went into the national qualifier. Bodnar said he knew they had had something special in their performance when a top tier team in their region seemed intimidated after watching him and Zill present their piece. 

“I have never felt more powerful,” Bodnar said. “After watching us present in a round, I saw fear on their faces and they immediately went to practice more before the next round. This team had consistently been one of the best of the best; it was a really cool feeling.”

Read the full story on their competition on our blog.