THS debate squad sweeps up at state
For the eighth consecutive year, Tonganoxie debaters brought home a first-place trophy from the state meet.
According to THS debate coach Steve Harrell, it wasn't an easy victory.
"We started out and after rounds we were no wins and four losses and in eighth place out eight teams," Harrell said. "It didn't look too promising -- at 5 o'clock Friday we looked pretty ugly."
But then things began to change.
"The kids really banded and put together a 9-1 record from that point on," Harrell said. "They finished in a three-way tie at nine wins and five losses and they won on the first tie-breaker which is the number of ballots you actually win from the judges -- it was a pretty close tournament."
Participants on the winning team were Kaitie Pestock, Zack Pistora, Mike Fonkert and Garrett Kelly. Sarah Kotowske was the alternate.
Tonganoxie High School was also represented in the two-speaker debate competition. Both events were held at the Washburn Rural schools.
The two-speaker debaters, John Davis and Justin Smith, both of whom are sophomores, beat a team from Coffeyville's Field Kinley High School in quarter finals, but lost to Parsons in the semi-finals.
This takes care of debate for the year, Harrell said, except for the national debate scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
While the four-speaker team celebrated their win, Harrell said they've since talked about the conversations that took place after the losing streak.
"We talked about a lot of things," Harrell said. "Technical things, we talked about delivery style, arguments and strategies. We did change affirmative cases and that really did make a difference."
And, he said, the team was resolute.
"I think the kids were just resilient," Harrell said. "I think they were just determined they weren't going to go down that way. ... That night we came home and did the math and tried to predict what would happen. I think they had it in their minds we're not out of this, it's going to be a great comeback, people are going to be really shocked."
Harrell said it wasn't just the wins that are rewarding.
"We got a lot of very complimentary e-mails from coaches as well as former debate kids here," Harrell said.
In fact, he added, Heather Young, a 2004 THS graduate, ordered a cookie tray from Mr. Goodcents and had it sent to the classroom on Monday.
"And Goodcents pitched in a sandwich tray, so we had a nice little celebratory lunch here for the kids," Harrell said.
But still, he said, the success boils down to the team members.
"I'm not just talking about wins and losses," Harrell said. "I'm talking about their demeanor and their attitudes and how they dress and carry themselves -- they're just good kids."
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