Tonganoxie High School medals four teams at two-speaker state debate
The Tonganoxie High School debate team finished the season with another successful weekend at the Class 4A state debate championships.
THS competed in two-speaker debate Friday and Saturday at Independence High School.
The team of seniors Spencer Finkbiner and Dawson Jones placed third, while fellow seniors Heather DeMaranville and Josh Lingo placed fourth. Senior Hunter York and junior Michael Mast teamed up for a fourth-place finish, while junior Bailey Jackson and sophomore Sierra Staatz placed eighth.
“We felt pretty good,” THS coach Steve Harrell said. “We took four teams to state, and they all medaled. That’s pretty big.”
Of 24 schools competing with 72 teams total, Tonganoxie was the only one to medal all four of its teams.
Harrell said the teams didn’t have their best debates on Friday, so there were some do-or-die moments on Saturday. He said he was proud of how the teams bounced back on Saturday.
Louisburg won two-speaker debate for 4A. Shawnee Mission East won 6A, Wichita’s Kapaun Mount Carmel won 5A and Hutchinson’s Trinity Catholic took home the title in 3-2-1A.
Blue Valley won the 6A title in four-speaker debate, with Blue Valley Southwest taking the 5A crown. Fort Scott won in 4A, and Wichita-Independent claimed the crown in 3-2-1A.
Tonganoxie had qualified for 22 consecutive four-speaker debate state tournaments, but that impressive streak came to an end this year.
“The whole debate season has been, really, a pretty good one,” Harrell said. “Each class has done something to step up and show some great progress.”
Tonganoxie’s last four-speaker title was in 2013 on its own campus. The two-speaker team last won state in 2009.
The debate tournaments allow for Harrell to also see some of his former THS students.
Tim Leffert coaches at Piper, while fellow member of the THS Class of 2004 Heather (Harrison) Potter coaches at Cheney. Fellow alum Jason Hagg coaches at De Soto, and Jerad Willis, who student-taught under Harrell, is at Salina-Sacred Heart. Willis is a Lansing High School graduate. Ken Church, who taught and helped coach debate at THS in recent years, taught Willis at LHS.
For the many debate team members who will compete in forensics, there’s not much of a breather.
Those students are off this week, but will get started with forensics practice next week. The first competition of the year will be Jan. 29 and 30, with state being the last weekend in April.
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