Early mornings, late nights and even school breaks. The life of a debater preparing for state can be tough. This year, the Rock Creek debate team qualified for both two-speaker and four-speaker state debate on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 at Independence High School in Independence, Kan.
To qualify for a two-speaker tournament, the partners need to have a winning record at open regular season tournaments. To qualify for a four-speaker tournament, one must place high at the regional competition, usually either first, second or third place. With either state competition, one must attend four Kansas State High School Activities Association-approved tournaments. Another tournament students could attend was the novice tournament. This is not a KSHSAA-sponsored event, but rather something the local high schools run.
The success from the regular season motivated state qualifiers to work incredibly hard to perform well at state. Students prepared for the state tournament by putting in extra hours of work.
“Somewhere between 20 and 30 extra hours of work,” junior Christian Berard said. “It is probably an hour at home… two hours after school.”
Junior Eli Miller expressed how he uses those extra hours to prepare.
“Just lots of research and coming after school and practicing speaking,” Miller said.
At state debate, the tournament is run just like a regular season tournament, but the stakes are much higher.
“At four-speaker state, the difference between the first-place team and the sixth-place team might be a matter of six ballots,” debate coach Keith Miller said. “So, in the matter of two days, if you can get six people to vote for you more than somebody else, you can be a state champion. If you don’t get those six people, you could be dead last.”
The four-speaker team, which included seniors Emmalee Funk and Adam Thew and juniors Marin Coughlin and Eli Miller, placed fifth, ending with a 9-5 record in the tournament. The two-speaker team, which included junior Joe Chalfant and sophomore Reid Bissen, did not make the playoff bracket, and finished with a 3-3 record in the tournament.
No matter the outcome, this season has been enjoyable for everyone involved.
“Kids have been great, [and] they get along really well,” Miller said. “Cheerful, hardworking — it has been a great year.”
Article by Haley Smith, staff business manager
Photo by Jessica Augustine-Stegman, adviser