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GBHS debaters win first at senior opener in Wichita
courtesy photo Great Bend High School Panther Debate squad traveled to Wichita for a tournament on Saturday, Sept. 18. Team members are, from left: Malachi Wasson, Isaiah Smith, Milena Carbajal, Alondra Alvarez, Thomas Henrikson and Maddix Pokorski.

The Great Bend High School Panther Debate squad won first place at the season-opening Dana Hensley Debate Invitational hosted by Wichita Collegiate High School on Saturday. The senior team of Isaiah Smith and Malachi Wasson went undefeated over four rounds and won the open division, Great Bend debate coach Kim Heath said. 

After attending only virtual competitions their novice year, the team of Alondra Alvarez and Milena Carbajal captured 5th place in the Junior Varsity division with a three win and one loss record. The team of Maddix Pokorski and Thomas Henrikson won one of their four rounds.  

“My students didn’t need to be in person in order to show their dedication and considerable skill at debating, but it sure felt good to watch them do it today,” Heath said.

The GBHS Debate squad has over 20 students this year who are looking forward to improving their abilities at numerous tournaments throughout the rest of the competitive season. The team is relatively balanced between those with experience and those who are just beginning. The debaters began working before school even started, and have continued to work throughout each week by researching and building their debate skills.

On Sept. 11, the squad attended the Heart of America Debate Clinic sponsored by Kansas Wesleyan University to learn more about how to apply debate theory and reconnect with the debate community.  

“It has been an exciting couple of weekends,” Heath said. “It was really nice to see my students’ work be rewarded. We have had a great start, but it’s not over yet.”

Coach Heath added, “While Panther debate kept going strong last year, I knew our debaters were missing a connection to others in the activity that is inherently motivating. It just wasn’t as much fun to come to school on a Saturday and debate on a computer. But they were growing and this weekend they shared their voices at the Wichita Collegiate tournament and as it turns out, they were learning along the way last year.”

This week the focus will be on JV and novices at Sterling High School. GBHS will host an in-person tournament on Oct. 2. Anyone who would like to help judge is asked to contact Kim Heath at the high school, 620-793-1521.