NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Tonganoxie High debate team earns 1st state title since 2010
In Class 3-2-1A, Silver Lake won the four-speaker debate title with a 15-1 record. Moundridge placed second at 14-2 and Bishop Seabury third at 12-4.
In Class 4A two-speaker, Coffeyville won the title, while Nickerson placed second. Hayden and Pittsburg tied for third. Buhler, Rock Creek, Spring Hill and Kansas City Sumner tied for fourth.
Caney Valley won the Class 3-2-1A two-speaker title and an Osage City squad placed second. Another Osage City team tied for third with Haven. Sterling and Ellinwood each had two teams tie for fourth.
Tonganoxie High four-speaker debate team members were hitting the Pepto Bismol fairly hard Friday and Saturday.
Competing on the Tonganoxie High School campus at the Class 4A state debate tournament, senior Christopher Tiner said she was taking doses of the medicine to combat the butterflies associated with an intense two days of debating the top teams in the state.
The nerves escalated when teams gathered at the Tonganoxie Performing Arts Center late Saturday afternoon to hear who won the state tournament.
“The assembly was the worst part,” Tiner said.
And then the top four Class 4A teams were announced.
Fort Scott placed fourth with a 9-7 record.
Then Rock Creek’s name was announced at third with an 11-5 record.
It came down to El Dorado and Tonganoxie, which both had 12-4 records. A tiebreaker was needed. When it came to individual judges’ ballots, Tonganoxie had 36 ballots to El Dorado’s 34.
Tonganoxie was named the four-speaker state champion.
“Too tight for comfort,” said Hunter Cook, who with Tiner formed Tonganoxie’s negative portion of the four-speaker team.
On the affirmative side were Austin Harris and Hannah Pray as THS went up against other schools debating the resolution “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.”
Team members said they heard some standard arguments throughout the season, but some curve balls are thrown when it comes to state. One affirmative debated that the transportation infrastructure investment should be made through a cyber security bill.
When all the arguments had been made, THS was named state champion for the ninth time in four-speaker competition. Tonganoxie’s last four-speaker title came in 2010. THS also won seven straight titles from 1999 to 2005. In two-speaker, the squad has won six titles, the last coming in 2009. This year, the Chieftains also advanced to state for the 20th consecutive season.
THS coach Steve Harrell said having the tournament at home allowed for some more familiar faces in the crowd when Tonganoxie was given the state trophy.
“I think this one will always be special because it’s the first one when we won it at our own high school,” Harrell said. “We’re always on the road.”
He also described the tournament as a “blast.” He said preparation involved substantial work, but once the tournament got rolling, it went well, thanks to plenty of help from local residents and even former debate team members.
“It was a great community experience, I thought,” Harrell said.
The longtime debate coach said Fort Scott would be the host site next year and El Dorado in 2015.
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes back to Tonganoxie,” Harrell said.
As for this year’s squad, team members were ecstatic to have another team title in school history. Harris said his stress and heart rates were down after THS was named state champ.
Tiner said she really didn’t eat much during the tournament, but her appetite returned in time for a team meal. The squad traditionally would eat at Salty Iguana for post-tournament meals.
Saturday, the team stuck to the post-meet Mexican food with a celebratory meal at Jalapeno’s in Tonganoxie.