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Annual McGovern speech and debate tourney gets underway

Speech and debate students are going to brave the weather to kick off the 25th annual George McGovern Forensics Tournament. The annual speech and debate competition will feature 450 entries -- in 15 different events -- participating from schools ...

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Speech and debate students are going to brave the weather to kick off the 25th annual George McGovern Forensics Tournament.

The annual speech and debate competition will feature 450 entries - in 15 different events - participating from schools across South Dakota, according to Ron Grimsley, the Mitchell High School speech and debate coach.

Even though Grimsley said he's a little concerned the potential winter weather will impact the number of students attending the event on Friday, but remains hopeful for Saturday's numbers.

Grimsley describes the tournament like two different tournaments since speech and oral interp events take place on Friday, while debate events take place on Saturday at the middle school and high school.

Friday's events will begin at noon with the first events, but participants will be showing up as early as 10:30 a.m. for registration. The awards presentation for Friday's events will begin at 7:30 p.m.

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Saturday will get going a littler earlier with events starting at 9 a.m. and lasting until about 5 p.m. with the awards presentation.

With roughly 50 students involved in Mitchell's speech and debate squad, Grimsley said a large amount of the students will participate in the two-day event.

"Over the years we have done very well," Grimsley said, "But it's very competitive."

Grimsley, who has been to all 25 of the McGovern tournaments, said he's seen it grow as an event, but recalls a time when it was "really small."

But since its beginning, the tournament has grown a lot, Grimsley said.

"We have a long history of hosting this - 25 years - and there's not too many tournaments in our state that are older than that," Grimsley said. "We've helped do a lot of things that are firsts for the state."

For example, Grimsley said, the McGovern tournament was the first in the state to host a public forum division.

And in all of these years, Grimsley said there has been three occasions when bad weather played a major factor, including last year's event.

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Last year, Grimsley estimated about 20 percent of the originally scheduled entries did not show up because of the winter weather. And he's expecting to have a few cancellations for this weekend, but he remains confident the overall turnout will be good.

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