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Panther Debaters win 6th Place at 5A State
The GBHS debaters earning 6th place at state were Malachi Wasson, Isaiah Smith, Milena Carbajal and Alondra Alvarez

The Great Bend High School Debate Team finished 6th at the KSHSAA 4-Speaker State Debate Tournament held this past weekend at Wichita Southeast High School.

At the 4-speaker competition, a school is represented by two partnerships that will each debate one side (either affirmative or negative) the entire tournament. At the end of the tournament the affirmative and negative win-loss records are added together to determine final placings. The duo of seniors and four-year debaters Isaiah Smith and Malachi Wasson debated on the affirmative. The negative team was comprised of sophomore Milena Carbajal and junior Alondra Alvarez. Junior Adeline Dougherty was the teams’ alternate.

The 4-speaker tournament is more of a whole team event than the normal weekend competitions, GBHS debate coach Kim Heath said. While these four individuals did the actual debating, the whole squad participated in the preparation. Many hours were spent researching and extending on the affirmative case and preparing negative positions to use against the other schools’ affirmative teams. The school’s success comes from everyone performing well.  

For the Class of 2022, this tournament marked the culmination of their debate experience.

“This was one of the most competitive and fun tournaments I’ve been to,” Wasson said. “Going to State with the help of our coach, Mrs. Heath, was the best way to end my high school debate season.”  

Smith agreed. “Competing against the hardest teams in the state of Kansas and picking up a few wins was one of my best debate experiences and makes me feel that my debate journey was worth it.” he said. “The debate part of the tournament was amazing but the time outside of the rounds with my teammates are some memories that I will never forget.” 

Three Great Bend High School alumni from the Wichita area came to help provide judging for the event. The willingness of Bayle Sandy, Patrick Heath and Aaron Miller to give back to the school and to the debate activity is what makes tournaments like this one possible, coach Heath said. The alumni were able to spend time with the Panther debaters in between rounds.

In the downtime between now and the opening of the 2022-2023 debate season, most of the GBHS debaters will turn their focus to student congress and forensics. Tournaments for these events will begin in just a couple of weeks. 

This season’s victories promise to push the younger students to continue to improve their own skills and find even more success next year, Heath said. The students are already excited and planning how to approach the new topic that was just announced. The topic for the 2022-2023 policy debate season will be “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its security cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in one or more of the following areas: artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity.”