THS No. 1 in state debate
Tradition-rich Tonganoxie is back in the driver's seat.
The Tonganoxie High School debate team returned home from the weekend's Class 4A state debate championship in Garden City with the first and second-place trophies in two-speaker debate, as well as third place in four-speaker debate.
After a two-year hiatus without a state title, THS debaters again were able to hoist a championship trophy.
"That's a pretty good haul," THS debate coach Steve Harrell said. "It's good to be state champs again."
The four-speaker team of juniors Addy Phelps and Alicia Osborne and seniors Ann Erickson and Jake Bontrager took home bronze. Phelps and Erickson were on the affirmative team and Osborne and Bontrager on the negative team.
Tonganoxie's two-speaker teams had an interesting run to the championship round.
Both teams advanced to the finals in their bracket. However, two squads from the same school would not debate each other.
So, Harrell designated the team of juniors David Powell and Dalton Lawson as state champions, with seniors John Lane and Matt Williams as the runners-up.
The agreement, Harrell said, stipulated that the Lane and Williams keep the first-place medals.
And, both teams will be included in the championship photo in the school trophy case, Harrell said.
"It seemed like a fair deal," Harrell said.
Other two-speaker teams competing were sophomores Austin Baragary and Emily Jefferies, who went 3-3, and juniors Doug Emerson and Ryan Brammer, who went 2-"Overall, we were competitive all the way across the board," Harrell said.
The journey to Garden City certainly was a long one. The team left about Thursday morning from Tonganoxie and made some important stops along the way.
"We stopped at the required spot at Russell Stover's in Abilene," Harrell said.
The team also stopped in Kanopolis - Harrell's hometown - and ate at Orozco's Portales Cafe, a longtime Mexican restaurant there.
The trip home, meanwhile, was a straight shot, as it took about six hours to return from Garden City. The team was back in Tonganoxie about 3:15 a.m. Sunday.
"It was a great adventure," Harrell said. "The kids had a great time."
Harrell has been at Tonganoxie for 18 years and established the debate program 17 years ago.
The program has a slew of state titles to its credit. In fact, this year marked the 15th consecutive season that the four-speaker team advanced from regionals to state.
"That's a tribute to the kids," Harrell said. "They know that's important to them and they want to keep that going, and that's cool."