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Panther Debaters claim 3rd place at Hays
GBHS debaters
GBHS debaters pose for a photo after earning medals Saturday at Hays High School. Pictured are, back row, from left: Isaiah Smith, Robby Brining, and Christopher Clarke; front row: CJ Gibson, Geoffrey Pafford, Patrick Heath, Daniel Abbot, Bayle Sandy, Skylar Fletcher and Tia Mitchell.

HAYS — Varsity debaters Daniel Abbott and Patrick Heath teamed up to earn 4th place medals and lead the GBHS debate squad to a third-place sweepstakes trophy at the Arrowhead Classic debate tournament held at Hays High School last Saturday.

Five panther duos traveled to Hays for the tournament and all finished with winning records. In the varsity division, Bayle Sandy and Geoffrey Pafford went 3-2 and earned 8th place medals. In the novice division, three teams also won 3 of their 5 rounds of competitions. These teams and their placings included: Robby Brining and C.J. Gibson-7th, Skylar Fletcher and Isaiah Smith-10th (tie), Tia Mitchell and Christopher Clark-10th (tie).  

The Panthers’ top three finish out of 17 schools was their best so far this season. The varsity division featured 34 teams and the novice division 24.  

“All of our debaters finished in the top half of competition and all had winning records,” said coach Kim Heath. “One of our goals for the season was for all of our teams to finish a tournament with winning records. That goal has been met thanks to the hard work and talent of these awesome kids.”

The debate topic chosen by the National Speech and Debate Association for this year is “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States.”

“The topic this year is a national hot-button issue,” said coach Heath. “With all of the media attention focused on immigration, our kids feel much more connected to the topic than in previous years. They are finding out how complicated this issue really is. Immigration policy is something that almost everyone agrees is broken, but how to fix it has stymied leaders since our country first erected the Stature of Liberty.”   

The GBHS debate squad will not debate this weekend as they will be hosting their own invitational tournament at the high school. Eight area schools are signed up to bring their squads to Great Bend. Coach Heath and the team are still looking for local community judges. “You do not need debate experience, only an open mind and a willingness to give up a few hours to support some of the brightest young people in this part of the state,” coach Heath said.  

For more information about judging or ways to support the GBHS debate team, contact Kim Heath at the high school, 620-793-1521, or email her at