Nine Lawrence high school debate teams headed to state tournament
Following regional competitions over the weekend, Lawrence and Free State high schools qualified nine debate teams to compete in the Kansas 6A state tournament next month.
Lawrence High School’s debate team placed third overall among seven schools that competed in the regional tournament at Topeka High School on Friday and Saturday. Teams from Washburn Rural and Hutchinson placed first and second.
In the four-speaker division, the LHS team qualified to move on to state, despite being relatively young, said LHS debate coach Jeff Plinsky.
“This particular group has two sophomores, a junior and a senior, and to be really honest our squad this year is really pretty young,” Plinsky said. “And so when we went into this, we thought we might have a chance to qualify, but we were in a pretty tough regional and some things were going to have to fall our way.”
The LHS four-member team consists of senior Stefan Petrovic, junior Bridget Smith and sophomores Claire Walther and Chisato Kimura.
This year’s topic is national surveillance, and teams argue whether the United States federal government should “substantially curtail” its domestic surveillance. Two students from the four-member team take the affirmative side while the other two take the negative side, Plinsky explained.
“The affirmatives will offer and defend a change in federal policy,” he said. “The negatives will either talk about why that policy is not a good idea, or sometimes they’ll offer their own policy that solves all of the problems that the affirmative policy probably solves, as well as some additional advantage or benefit.”
In the two-speaker team division, both Lawrence and Free State high schools qualified four teams. Plinsky said because the Lawrence High two-speaker teams are sticking with the same argument from previous tournaments, the team won’t announce which students will be competing until closer to the tournament.
Free State’s team placed sixth overall in the regional tournament. The four Free State two-speaker teams heading to state are: senior Genevieve Prescher and junior Paige Lawrence; senior Linda Liu and junior Sophia Swanson; senior Nikki Myers and junior Ian Pultz-Earle; and senior Zach Harris and junior Calvin Yost-Wolff.
“Each team has one senior and one junior, so I think we can look forward to the fact that we’ll have some really talented kids coming back next year,” said Free State debate coach Jason Moore.
Moore said 18 students qualified based on their record this season, and picking among that pool for those who would compete at state was a tough decision, because they all worked hard.
“It’s difficult to choose the students that go,” he said. “More than just these eight students were qualified, and could have easily gone as well.”
Both the four-speaker and two-speaker divisions will compete in the state tournament at Olathe Northwest High School on Jan. 15 and 16.