Debate teams qualify for State

Kaitlin Clark, Blue M Managing Editor

After multiple tournaments and hours of hard work, two Manhattan High debate pairs have qualified for the state championship.

After obtaining their fourth winning records at the Saturday Jefferson West tournament, sophomore partners Megan Keenan and Alison Payne, as well as sophomores Will Bannister and Caden Hickel, reached the qualifications necessary to be able to compete at state.

“There are going to be many new cases we have to be ready for,” Payne said.

Even though two teams qualified for state, debate members felt that there is always room for improvement.

“I would say we should work on our negative strategies and just work on the arguments we make on our negative side,” Keenan said.

Other team members were glad to see their teammates’ victories.

“I’m super excited to see their hard work pay off,” Shelby Goscha, sophomore, said. “I feel very honored to be a part of an amazing team.”

Another victory at the tournament came from the debate pair of Goscha and Aaron Hoff, sophomore, who placed third in the J.V. category with a 4-1 winning record.

“We ran our new case for the first time and found some holes that we can repair,” Goscha said. “Other than that… I felt very confident in this weekend.”

The Jeff West tournament had several aspects to it that were different than the average tournament, making students’ work even harder. Instead of a traditional Friday through Saturday tournament, it was confined to only Saturday, something that the team wasn’t used to. The arguments constructed by the other teams competing also made this tournament more difficult.

“We got a lot of weird [affirmative cases] since this was a smaller tournament and there were smaller schools there that we don’t usually hit, so there were a lot of arguments we weren’t really prepared for,” Keenan said.

Even with all of these setbacks, the debate team managed to have a successful tournament, even succeeding in areas they normally struggle in.

“The first round is always the hardest because you have to warm up and get into the debate mindset,” Payne said. “But we won our first round so that was good.”

Following the tournament, students were able to relax and see something new as they drove back to Manhattan.

“We stopped at a little shop on the way back and it sold all things apple,” Payne said. “[Debate coach Kristal] Kleiner bought each of us some apple ice cream, some apple cider slushy and some apple doughnuts.  It was a really authentic little place.”

The stop at the apple market was seen as a unique way to mark their victory.

“It was a great way to celebrate the tournament as a whole,” Goscha said.

Following their qualification for state, the four debate members competing will be working even harder to have a chance of victory at the larger tournament.

The state tournament is currently scheduled to occur Jan. 12 and 13, ringing in the new year with a new competition.

“We are now qualified for state,” Payne said, “so we have a lot to prepare for.”