Debate coaches from Lawrence and Free State High School say they're taking strong teams to this weekend's national qualifying tournament in Olathe, but they also know they're facing stiff competition.
"It's going to be an interesting tournament this year," said Free State assistant coach Michael Shelton. "There are some very good teams in our district."
The East Kansas National Forensics League District Tournament is one of six national qualifying tournaments being held around the state this weekend.
The event, being held at Olathe Northwest High School, is a double-elimination tournament, meaning teams are disqualified after receiving two losses. The last three teams standing win a bid to the national tournament, to be held this summer in Overland Park, and a shot at the national title.
This year's topic is, " Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement toward Cuba, Mexico or Venezuela."
Both schools are taking three two-speaker teams to Olathe.
For Free State, those teams will be Alex Houston and Hannah Moran, both seniors; Logan Brown, senior, and Solomon Cottrell, junior; and the sophomore team of Linda Liu and Genevieve Prescher.
All six competed in varsity tournaments throughout the regular season, and all six qualified for the 6A state tournament, to be held next month in Overland Park.
For Lawrence High, the three teams are junior Hayley Luna and sophomore Stefan Petrovic; juniors Jacob DiVilbiss and Kelli Sturm; and juniors Ellie Dunlap and Mona Ahmed.
The tournament involves three rounds Friday afternoon followed by four rounds on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
Awards are expected to be announced at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.