Archive for Wednesday, January 27, 1999


January 27, 1999


— The Tonganoxie debate team cleaned up the state Class 4A competition, bringing home three trophies and a state championship.

It took a whole seat on the bus to carry home all of the trophies that the state champion Tonganoxie High School debate team won.

The Tonganoxie High School debate squad cleaned up in the state competition, winning first place in the Class 4A and four-speaker state tournament. They also placed second and third in the Class 4A, two-speaker state tournament.

"We had a pretty good weekend," Steve Harrell, debate team coach, said.

The team took 13 debaters to the state competition in Garden City and brought home three trophies. Two of the squad's teams also will be competing in Catholic Forensics League national tournament in Chicago during Memorial Day weekend.

"We took home three trophies last year and I thought that would be hard to beat," Harrell said. "But this team has just had a phenomenal year."

Jessica Sturgeon, 16, and Jacob Mahoney, 18, were part of the championship team.

"It's harder than a typical ... tournament," Mahoney said. "The rounds are more challenging. You have more to cover in the same amount of time. It's kind of exciting. It's a challenge."

"The competition was pretty stiff," Sturgeon said. "... The team had an awesome season."

Sturgeon said team members knew how they were doing throughout the tournament until the last two rounds. Then, the tabulation room was closed and the winners weren't announced until an assembly after the rounds were completed.

"I was kind of nervous, for a while," she said. "We were all sitting in the assembly, holding hands and hoping."

"I knew we were going to do well, but I never really excepted a state championship," Mahoney said.

The debate squad is made of students in the debate class who wish to compete. They spend about 15 weekends of the school year on the road, competing around the region.

"We start the last weekend of September and except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're on the road every weekend," Harrell said.

And they practice. They practice at least six hours a week after school, sometimes more.

Sturgeon, Mahoney, Nasi Burnett and Darren Welch made up the championship debate team with their alternate, Kyle Rodell. The second place two-speaker team was Ben Jones and Eli Crittenden; while Phillip Shaw and Jordan Smith came in third in that competition. Also competing in the two-speaker tournament were the teams of Mike Moss and Josh Hagg, and Luke Manson and Marissa Stephenson.

"We couldn't have done it without Mr. Harrell," Sturgeon said. "He's an awesome coach."

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is

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