SALINA — The Great Bend High School KSHSAA Regional Debate team of Patrick Heath, Bayle Sandy, Geoffrey Pafford, Isaiah Smith, Malachi Wasson and Skylar Fletcher tied for third place at Regionals this past Saturday at Salina South. After tie breakers, the team officially finished in fourth place.
The regional tournament is unique in that one, four-person squad plus alternates is chosen to represent the school. While debaters usually alternate affirming the resolution and attacking the resolution, at regionals one team debates affirmative all day while the other team debates negative all day. The competition is also a round-robin tournament with every school having the opportunity to debate every other school on both sides of the question.
Great Bend defeated Valley Center, Salina South and McPherson on one side of the question. The Panther debaters lost both rounds against Newton but soundly defeated Hays on both the affirmative and the negative.
Selected to represent Great Bend on the affirmative side was the team of Bayle Sandy and Patrick Heath.
“Patrick and Bayle consistently out-debated teams with an affirmative case that they had poured their hearts into all season long,” debate coach Kim Heath said. “They did it while setting tremendous examples for my novices of how to work hard, take coaching advice and speak confidently and maturely. I am blessed that they will be returning as senior leaders next year.”
On the negative side, the team was handicapped when junior Daniel Abbott was unable to debate due to illness. Freshmen alternates Wasson and Smith stepped up and rotated in to debate with senior Geoffrey Pafford.
“When faced with his last debate tournament ever and confronted with the reality of losing the partner he had strategized with and prepared with all season long to illness, Geoffrey stepped up to lead these two novices on the negative side,” the coach said.
“His wonderful attitude is a model for all my students of how they should act in the face of adversity,” coach Heath continued, “The lessons learned by Malachi and Isaiah, who got this opportunity to debate with Geoffrey at the Regional level, will carry them far in this activity. I am going to greatly miss his senior leadership.”
The month began with the debaters traveling to Clay Center on Dec. 1. The novice team of Tia Mitchell and CJ Gibson amassed 3 wins and 2 losses and earned fifth place medals. Freshmen Skylar Fletcher and Malachi Wasson earned a 3 win and 2 loss record. Freshman debater Isaiah Smith competed with senior Geoffrey Pafford for a 2 win and 3 loss record. Juniors Patrick Heath and Bayle Sandy also finished with 2 wins and 3 losses.
The novice season officially ended on Dec. 4 with an evening tournament at Lyons. Four freshmen represented Great Bend High School. Natalie Bayona and Citraly Torres won 2 rounds and lost 1, while the team of Smith and Wasson compiled 1 win and 2 losses.
Saturday, Dec. 8 found the Panther debaters at a regional, warm-up tournament at Moundridge. Like regionals, GBHS was represented by a 4-speaker team. Sandy and Fletcher debated on the affirmative, while Pafford and Abbott debated on the negative. Great Bend finished with six wins and four losses to finish 7th out of 23 different teams from various classifications.
Reflecting on her first year as debate coach, Kim Heath said, “I am proud to say that all of my squad’s goals for the year have been met. We ended the year with an above 50 percent win-loss record and all members of the team earned membership in the National Speech and Debate Association honor society. We learned, grew and improved throughout the semester. I can’t wait to see what forensics season holds!”
Competitive speech, also known as forensics, will begin in the middle of January 2019.