News News Stories — 01 February 2017
News: Bissen, Miller take fourth at state debate tournament

Rock Creek’s debate team traveled to Lyons, Kan., on Jan. 21-22 to compete in the four-speaker state tournament.

Two teams went, one made up of senior Eli Miller and junior Reid Bissen and the other of sophomore Evan Hancock and freshman Garrison Funk. Bissen and Miller took fourth on the negative side.

The teams were altered due to the illness of two of two debaters.

“Both [sophomore] Hannah Fouts and [senior] Marin Coughlin were sick, and [junior] Brice [Gohring] didn’t make it,” Bissen said. “So, we shifted around the teams, and Eli and I went as the negative team on four-speaker and Evan Hancock and Garrison Funk went as the aff. [affirmative] team for four-speaker.”

In regular season tournaments, debaters usually alternate between the affirmative and negative viewpoint every round, and the two-speaker state division follows this same pattern. However, in the four-speaker division, teams will either only debate as affirmative or negative the entire tournament.

“It’s more specialized,” debate coach Keith Miller said.

The goal of this specialization is to create a debate with as much substance as possible and allow debaters to focus on one side of the argument to perfect.

No matter the state division, all debaters argued one topic: “Resolved, the United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China.” The team has been digging into this topic since last summer.

The negative team of Bissen and Miller was successful, going 6-1 and placing fourth at state.

“I felt that we made some really good attacks,” Bissen said. “Like, one time, Eli did some really good math and proved that the affirmative plan would cost government a quadrillion dollars. So, that was fun,”

Hancock and Funk’s affirmative state case was more focused on the fisheries in China that produce Tilapia. The team went 1-6.

“Our case was a modified version of what we used all year,” Hancock said. “It was, like, we are going to send ‘X’ number of inspectors to China to help with their food safety and at their farms, regulate basically all of the stuff they are putting in their crops. I feel like we debated well; we didn’t really run into any issues. There was one round out of all of them that I thought that we really lost, and that was basically just because of all the attacks the negative team threw at us. I really thought the rest of the rounds could have gone any way, but our ballots just didn’t break our way.”

First-year debaters participated in the novice state debate tournament on Jan. 7. Two teams participated: freshmen Garrison Funk and Alyssa Troyer, who went 4-1, as well as freshmen Niamh Coughlin and Maddie Eshelman who went 3-2. Out of 98 teams at the tournament, Funk and Troyer took eighth place, the highest of any Rock Creek team at novice state.

Whether the teams win or lose, the purpose of debate is to learn skills, such as how to speak well or how to think quickly.

“We learned a lot about creative ways to make new attacks and creative ways to string together different pieces of evidence to make attacks that would really hurt the affirmative,” Bissen said.

Many also gain an extremely in-depth understanding of the debated topic and how it applies to various aspects of the world.

“I learned a whole lot that I didn’t know about China, mainly because my information about China was really limited,” Funk said. “There was a lot more about how they, what like their view is in politics and about the U.S., especially with the election that just happened.”

As for coach Keith Miller, he now “tries to avoid buying anything made in China.”

Article by staff member Katie Dulohery

Photo courtesy of Keith Miller

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