Lawrence High School will send four students to the national speech and debate tournament this summer.
The students qualified by placing first or second in their respective events at the National Forensics League East Kansas District tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Shawnee Mission South High School in Johnson County.
There was a close competition between LHS and Free State High School for the second slot in Lincoln-Douglas debate. A student from Olathe Northwest, Oliver Tahmasiyan, had claimed the first slot by going undefeated in the double-elimination tournament.
The race for the second slot came down to single debate between two speakers with 2-1 records: Lawrence senior Edward Loupe and Free State junior Yang Yang Li. With three judges deciding the round, Loupe was declared the winner in a split decision.
"We felt lucky to come out on that end of it," said Lawrence forensics coach Jeff Plinsky. "It could have gone either way."
Meanwhile, sophomore Clara Cobb qualified in humorous interpretation, and freshman Stefan Petrovic qualified in international extemporaneous speaking.
Senior Lauren Pauls won first at the district tournament in original oratory but had already qualified to nationals in congressional debate.
Plinsky said that because of tournament logistics, students are only allowed to compete in one event at the national tournament and that Pauls chose congressional debate over oratory.
Free State had four students reach the final round of competition at the tournament, but none made the cut for nationals. In addition to Li, sophomore Solomon Cottrell placed fourth in international extemp; freshman Linda Liu placed fifth in domestic extemp; and junior Alex Huston placed sixth in international extemp.
The national tournament is scheduled for June 16-21 in Birmingham, Ala.
The next major tournament for area schools will be the Kansas state championships May 4.
Lawrence and Free State will compete in the 6A tournament at Olathe Northwest. Bishop Seabury Academy will compete in the 2A tournament at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita.