For the first time since 2007, the Great Bend High School debaters won the four-speaker Kansas State High School Activities Association 5A Regional Debate Championship. The four-speaker tournament was held in Emporia Saturday, Dec. 18, and was a full round-robin tournament of seven teams.
A four-speaker tournament is different from regular debate tournaments where the students debate both sides of the resolution, GBHS debate coach Kim Heath said. At a four-speaker tournament, each debate team is made up of four debaters, two who debate only on the negative and two who debate only on the affirmative. Their records are then combined for a team record. The Panther debaters compiled a record of 10 wins and just 2 losses to win the tournament.
Leading the squad on the affirmative side of the debate were seniors Isaiah Smith and Malachi Wasson. They were undefeated throughout the day. Second-year debaters Alondra Alvarez and Milena Carbajal represented GBHS on the negative side. They successfully beat all of their opponents except for the affirmative teams from Salina South and Maize. Aliyah Fryberger served as an alternate.
According to coach Heath, the work this team did in the three weeks before the event is what propelled them to victory. “The team practiced for hours in the evening developing their speaking skills and then went home and worked on updating their research,” she said. “It was a squad effort. Many other debaters on the squad provided research on current events that was critical to the teams’ success. While the overarching topic debated all season was whether the federal government should protect our water resources, the students have learned a lot about the role of U.S. leadership globally and how politics affects policy making on the federal level.”
Coach Heath said she firmly believes that debate is a great way for students to learn how to set goals and organize their time in order to reach those goals.
“Of course, critical thinking, research and public speaking skills that they build along the way in debate, will serve the students in any career,” she said.
There were two 5A regionals held in Kansas that weekend with the top four teams from each advancing to the State tournament in January. State championships in the 5A and 6A classifications are scheduled for Jan. 14 and 15 at Wichita Southeast High School where Great Bend will be competing against Maize, Salina South, De Soto, Blue Valley Southwest, St. James Academy, Lansing and Piper high schools.
Debaters finish 3rd at Moundridge
The Great Bend squad took two four-speaker teams to the varsity Regional warm-up hosted at Moundridge High School on Saturday, Dec. 11. The varsity team was represented on the affirmative by seniors Isaiah Smith and Malachi Wasson. Debating on the negative were juniors Adeline Dougherty and Aliyah Fryberger. Together the students compiled a 7 win, 3 loss record and finished 3rd.
“While our novices did not debate at Regionals, the Panthers entered a novice team in the Moundridge warm-up in order to experience varsity competition and challenge their skills,” coach Heath said. Debating on the affirmative for Great Bend were freshmen Darcy Feist and Reese King. Debating on the negative were sophomores Rebeca Rodriguez and Chrisangel Adame. They finished the day with a record of 2 wins and 8 losses.
Debaters place 2nd at Clay Center
Panther debaters brought home second-place sweepstakes honors from the Clay Center Debate Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 4.
“We tried out some different partner arrangements at this tournament,” Heath said. “I have wonderful senior leaders that wanted the opportunity to actively mentor other members of the squad, so we mixed it up a little, allowing for true, in-round peer teaching opportunities. It makes my heart happy to see how well this team works together and supports each other. I firmly believe it is building the foundation for our success now and in the future.”
Senior Isaiah Smith joined sophomore Milena Carbajal and won all four rounds to place 2nd individually. Varsity debater Adeline Dougherty and junior varsity debater Alondra Alvarez were 5th with 3 wins and 1 loss. Senior Malachi Wasson and sophomore Thomas Henrikson had 2 wins and 2 losses for 4th place. Representing Great Bend on the novice side were Reese King and Rebeca Rodriguez with 2 wins and 2 losses.