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Panther Debate victorious at Boot Hill Classic
Courtesy photo Great Bend High School debate team members pose with medal after Saturday’s tournament at Dodge City. Back row, from left: CJ Gibson, Maddix Pokorski, Isaiah Smith; second row: Skylar Fletcher, Malachi Wasson, Xanna Smith, Kenia Balderama; in front: Katria Kindscher.

DODGE CITY — Young debaters excelled at the Boot Hill Classic in Dodge City on Saturday. Great Bend High School took home the sweepstakes trophy by having the best combined record across both the varsity and novice divisions.

While there were eight schools entered in the tournament, it became clear early on that the final standing was going to be a race between Great Bend, Garden City and Hoisington. Like all tournaments, the early rounds were randomly matched. As the day went on, the rounds were power-matched by pairing winners against winners, and losers against losers.  

The GBHS team was led by two sophomore debaters, Skylar Fletcher and Malachi Wasson. The pair finished without a loss in all five rounds of debate. They defeated teams from Liberal, Garden City and then three different Hoisington teams in a row. They won 1st place in the open division.

Another young team placing in the varsity division was freshman Maddix Pokorski and sophomore Isaiah Smith. They defeated two Hoisington teams, a Ulysses team and a Garden City pair but lost one of their rounds to Garden City. They earned 5th -lace medals for their four wins, one loss record.  

The final open team included senior, CJ Gibson, and freshman, Xanna Smith. They defeated two teams from Garden City, but lost to one other team from Garden City. They also lost to two different Hoisington teams.  

Kenia Balderama and Katria Kindscher represented the Panthers in the novice division. This sophomore and freshman pair beat four different Garden City teams before losing to Hoisington in the final round. They finished second in the novice division.  

The Boot Hill Classic continued a tradition of holding a masquerade tournament. The awards included costume prizes if the debaters chose to participate. Xanna Smith won best individual award for her Minnie Mouse costume.

“This sweepstakes trophy was won by first- and second-year competitors,” said Kim Heath, Great Bend High School debate coach. “Their performance shows promise for the future. I am so proud of all of them. 

“Their success also speaks to the leadership of the varsity members. The seniors were continually checking in on the younger debaters to see how they were doing and offer advice and encouragement,” continued Heath. “Our squad is a team of not only one or two great debaters, but a team of outstanding young people who all support one another. It is our teamwork, more than any other factor, that allows for our continued success.”