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Winning The Argument: Debate team comes in 1st at regionals with 10-0 record

The+4-speak%2C+1st+place+debate+team+celebrating+after+the+regionals+tournament.
Courtesy Photo
The 4-speak, 1st place debate team celebrating after the regionals tournament.

As the 4A debate regional results were announced Saturday, Dec. 16, during a home tournament at Miege, team members were at the edge of their seats ready to hear the outcome of their state-qualifying rounds, ending in shock and celebration with their perfect score of 10-0.

Over the last couple of weeks, in and out of class preparations have taken place through compiling evidence and performing practice debates before and after school. Senior Alexander Haggerty, who competed as the affirmative team with his partner junior Edgar Ludwikoski, said the team worked hard to ensure it had enough evidence to thoroughly answer any argument a negative team could run. 

“I think we had so much success because we have spent a long time preparing for both affirmative and negative,” Haggerty said. “Mrs. Reynolds has also done a great job of teaching us how to debate well.” 

Haggerty and junior Franny Chaffee-McClure attributed their confidence and lack of nerves in the rounds to the vast level of preparation before the tournament and both think the team handled the pressure so well because of their experience years prior. 

“This was my second year competing at regionals, and I guess I got all of my nerves out sophomore year,” Chaffee-McClure said. “I know my partner was very nervous, but we just pretended like it was a normal tournament and debated like we always do.

Chaffee-McClure and junior Joseph Schmidt have debated in nine tournaments together this season and are now moving one to state. From beginning the first tournament of the season by placing first with a 5-0 record at Olathe North to finishing with the same score at regionals, the partners are proud of their achievements this season and the hard work they put in. 

“Joe and I have become a much better team over the season,” Chaffee-McClure said. “We started off strong but only continued to grow. Creating a style that works for both of us took some time but now that we’ve got it down we have a lot more success and fun.”

Unlike the negative team, this was Haggerty and Ludwikoski’s first tournament debating with each other. Agreeing it took some getting used to, the pair is happy with the overall outcome and thought they made a good team. 

“Edgar and I worked extremely well together,” Haggerty said. “We did win all of our rounds with almost every judge voting for us and were able to both expand on each other’s arguments and respond to any argument brought up by the other team.”

Because of the home-field advantage, the team had the opportunity to win at its own school. While this did require the debaters to pause their celebration and help clean up the tournament afterward, Haggerty and Chaffe-McClure rejoiced in not having to wake up as early because of the shorter drive from their houses. Others like Ludwikowski enjoyed the sentimental value of competing in their own classrooms. 

“It was very helpful that regionals was at Miege as it gave some comfort being in a known place,” Ludwikoski said.

Reflecting on the previous day, one moment that stuck out to Chaffee-McClure was how the team managed to unite and support each other amidst the chaos. 

“I loved the little moment between rounds when we got to sit all together and talk,” Chaffee-McClure said. “We were split into two groups most of the day, so when we got together and discussed our rounds it was really enjoyable. Even though the day was super busy, we managed to find time to press pause and just talk.”

This being his first year competing at state, Ludwikoski said he feels nervous about going up against other schools they haven’t had the opportunity to debate yet. Because of her experience last year winning third place in the four-speaker debate state championship, Chaffee-McClure is feeling less overwhelmed in the process as she knows what to expect. 

“I am excited for state but the outcome is not that important to me,” Chaffee-McClure said. “I know that three out of the four of us have another year of debate, and I’m proud of what we’ve done.”

But for Haggerty with the celebration also comes the mourning of his final regional and eventual state competition on the team. He has come in second and third at state in the last two years, and said he is hopeful to finish with a first-place medal on Jan 13. 

“State is going to be my last policy debate tournament, so I would like to end with a win,” Haggerty said. “I am also excited to compete against, and hopefully beat, McPhearson because they have won state the past two years, but I definitely think that we can win.”

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Elaina Gibson, Web Editor in Chief

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