Lawrence High takes second at State Novice Debate Championships

The LHS novice debate team of Sungho Hwang, left, and Bridget Smith placed second this weekend at the Sunflower Novice State Championships at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka.

Lawrence High School debaters Sungho Hwang and Bridget Smith took second place this weekend at the Sunflower Novice State Championships, which took place at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka.

Hwang and Smith competed in the ninth-grade division of the tournament with 75 other teams from 38 schools around the state. They finished with seven wins and two losses, including a split-decision loss in the final round against Olathe Northwest.

LHS debate coach Jeff Plinsky said the final round was close. Hwang and Smith argued the affirmative case for the resolution, which calls for greater U.S. economic engagement with Latin America.

“It was a close round, and we are thrilled with the efforts and competitive fire of our kids,” Plinsky said.

Hwang and Smith advanced from the preliminary rounds as the fifth seed with a 4-1 record. They went on to beat Lansing on a 3-0 decision in the octafinals; Washburn Rural on a 2-1 decision in the quarterfinals; and Emporia on a 2-1 decision in the semifinals.

Individually, Hwang finished 16th out of the 150 speakers in the tournament. Smith finished in a tie for 33rd. Free State’s Laura Phillips finished 21st individually.

Phillips and her partner Lance Brown were 3-2 after the preliminary rounds and did not advance.

This Friday and Saturday, varsity teams from both Lawrence and Free State High School will compete in the 6A state championships at Blue Valley High School in Olathe.