LHS Debate team makes their mark at state by placing in the top ten

The debate teams season ends with many students successfully competing at the Kansas State Championship

By Zana Kennedy, Reporter

After another successful season, the debate team wrapped up their final arguments at the state championship, where they qualified as one of the top ten competitors in the state of Kansas. 

The debate team had a year full of accomplishments, with several people qualifying for state, and some students even placing. This included the four-speaker team who finished in sixth place and the two-speaker teams placed in the top half. Many of the students who participated in the state this year were lowerclassmen, and the debate coach Jeff Plinsky says many younger team members played a role in their accomplishments at the state. 

“The two people in the two-speaker tournament are sophomores, so they’ve got a bright future ahead of them,” Plinsky said. “We had three seniors and a sophomore on our four-speaker team finishing sixth at State, so we’re proud of that.”

The young debaters were excited about the opportunity to compete at the state. Sophomore Adelle Spiess, who placed in the top half of the competitionwee, says the experience was formidable and inspired her to push to the next level.

“Debating older and more experienced debaters can be intimidating, especially when the circuit we compete in is so strong,” Spiess said. “But it gives you motivation to become that varsity debater all the sophomores fear.” 

In order to prepare for a large competition like state, there is a lot of research involved which Plinsky says is key to success.

“The preparation really is about double checking your research, making sure you have updated information, and developing an idea of everything that those teams have run at past tournaments to make sure we have all those bases covered,” Plinsky said. “Your athletic coaches will tell you that championships are won in the weight room. Debate coaches will tell you that championships are won in the research.”

Another victory for debate this year happened when the team earned their first T.O.C, or Tournament of Champions bid, which would give the team the chance to compete at a national championship if they received a second nomination. Despite not receiving another bid, this was very exciting for the team, and senior Caitlin Sand is glad she has been a part of this experience.

Being able to be the first team in Lawrence High history to get a bid to the tournament champions is definitely something that I will forever keep talking about,” Sand said. “It makes me really happy with how I finish off my senior year.”

Besides their more notable victories, many people on the debate team feel like they had a successful season overall, and sophomore Sophia Montrose feels that is due to the amount of skill in the debate this year.

“Our debate team has been pretty good this season,” Montrose said. “I think we have a strong team, and I’ll give a lot of credit to the seniors that are graduating this year because they’re really talented debaters.”

The state tournament symbolizes the end of the debate season, and Plinsky has loved watching all of his debaters grow and learn over the course of the year, but he really saw their hard work pay off while watching them compete with the best teams in Kansas.

“The most memorable thing was watching those three seniors that were in the four-speaker tournament, and watch them sort of take the reins themselves,” Plinsky said. “They knew what they needed to do and they knew the work they needed to get done.”

Throughout the year, whether they were debating in the classroom, researching late into the night, or preparing for state, it was the other debaters going through the same process that carried them through it all. Junior Isaac Outka says that it is the uniquely resilient dynamic that makes the team’s bond so strong.

“You can be butting heads in the round and then after you’re saying a good job and giving people high fives,” Outka said. “So it’s just like we put aside our friendship for the round and then put aside our differences after the round.”

Plinsky hopes to accomplish even more next year by working with his students and pushing them to their greatest potential. 

“I think they are very realistically talking about chasing a state championship next year,” Plinsky said. “I think we certainly have the people to do it. It’s gonna be a question of can we put all the pieces together, so I’m nothing but excited about what this year has shown us for the future.”