Debaters Compete at Advanced Tournaments


Alfonso Rascon

   EHS’ Debate team competed at the Sunflower Novice State Championship tournament and the Debate Coaches Invitational this weekend. This was the first state tournament that Emporia took a full entry to in over a decade, and Spartan debaters saw success across the board.

   The Sunflower Novice State Championship sees first-year debaters from across the state compete for the status of top team. The tournament is also split up into two different sections; Novice Freshmen, for those in both their first year of high school as well as debate, and Novice Open, also for those who are in their first year of debate but in any year of high school.

   Spencer Ehr (9) and James Weast (9) competed in the Novice Freshmen divisions and had a record of 4-2. Both competitors knew nothing about the activity at the beginning of the season.

   “When I started I barely knew anything honestly. Even after having debate camp I still didn’t completely understand [debate],” Weast said. “Now I just went to a Novice State tournament and went 4-2, and I’m going to the 4A-KSHSAA 4-Speaker debate tournament.”

   Alan Garcia (12) and Eli Hendry (12); Jasmin Rubio Guzman (10) and Thais Martinez (10); and Alfonso Rascon (12) and Ethan Soto (12) all competed in the Novice Open Division. All three teams broke into quarter-finals and moved on into semi-finals, with Emporia being 3 out of the 4 teams in the bracket. 

   Soto and Rascon ended up being State Champion Runners-up and had a record of 7-1, with both Garcia and Hendry and Guzman and Martinez tying for 3rd place, with records of 6-1 and 6-2 respectively.

   “I’m extremely proud of the team culture we’ve all cultivated. People lift each other up on this team,”  Liberty Belote (assistant coach) said. “That makes the difference between a successful team like Emporia, and one that doesn’t make the cut.”

   The Debate Coaches Invitational (DCI) tournament is a completely different style of debate. In order to qualify, a team has to get bids from coaches across the state. Maddox Misak (12) and Alan Martinez (12) qualified for the hardest tournament to get into.

   “One obstacle we had to overcome was the realization that the competitors we were facing were as good, if not better, than Maddox and me. It was no longer a bunch of competitors we could stomp over without thinking about it; it was instead a battle of the best debaters from across the state of Kansas,” Martinez said.

   While the Sunflower Novice State Championship marked a successful and fulfilling end to the Novice’s season, the 13th and 14th are KSHSAA’s 5A State Tournaments in both 4-Speaker and 2-Speaker styles. The Emporia High team will again have full entries for the state tournament.