Debaters again qualify for state
Last weekend, Tonganoxie High School debaters topped off a good start to a great season with a regionals win in four-person debate.
This Saturday, Amelia Earhart, Andrew Becker, Kyle Rodell, Darren Welch and alternate Paul Reetz will follow their first-place win at Hayden High School, Topeka, with a trip to the state meet at Shawnee Heights High School.
Debate coach Steve Harrell said this is the eighth consecutive year Chieftain debaters have qualified for state.
"It's always special for us," Harrell said. "I think we've got a great shot at doing well at the state tournament this weekend. We've got to work hard all week and it looks like we'll get that accomplished work hard, that is."
Moreover, Tonganoxie High School debaters now have the Big Apple in sight. On Dec 8, the THS team participated in the Kansas Salina Catholic Forensics League tournament and for the fourth time in four years, they came home champions.
This meet qualified Kyle Rodell, Amelia Earhart, Kelly Woelk and Darren Welch, for national competition, slated for Memorial Day weekend in New York City.
The four students, Harrell said, debated in teams of two: Rodell and Earhart and Woelk and Welch.
"All were undefeated in their qualifier," Harrell said. "And they took first for the national qualifying tournament, the KSCFL."
During the four years the debate team has participated at the Salina tournament, teammates have netted 41 wins and three losses.
But the wins haven't come easily, Harrell said.
"At last year's competition, three teams besides us were state medalists," Harrell said. "So, it's tough competition we've just been very fortunate."
His students are fairly accustomed to winning, Harrell said. But they also know how to lose.
For instance, he said the THS debaters started the season with wins, and then met a mid-term slump.
"We suffered through a couple of weeks right after the high school musical when we didn't place well," Harrell said. "There was a lot going on, my attentions were in other places we didn't debate poorly, but we didn't get as far as we'd hoped it kind of shook our confidence."
Harrell, who is in his 11th season of coaching debate at Tonganoxie, said it took seven years of work before his students started winning.
Students in other schools have said Tonganoxie is the team to beat at tournaments.
"That may be true I know that probably at one time we could sneak up on people and debate them and they didn't know where we were from," Harrell said. "It's kind of a neat feeling to be one of those teams that everyone shoots for that's a great compliment, but it comes with a price tag, too."