Debate’s First Time Competing at 5A Regionals; Falls Short of Qualifying


Written by: Lane Barrette, Co-Editor

On Dec. 15, the debate team competed at the 5A Topeka West 4-Speaker Regional and placed last out of the six schools. The team was comprised of seniors Erica Brady and Sofie Otting to debate on affirmative all day and juniors Lane Barrette and Maddi Rayl to debate on negative all day. The tournament is round-robin, and every affirmative team met every negative team and vise versa. The participating schools were Shawnee Heights, Topeka West, Topeka Seamen, DeSoto and Emporia. Shawnee Heights took first place followed by Topeka West, qualifying both to 4-Speaker State in January.

“The transition overall was hard. Plans are not made the same way and attacks are not run the same way [in 5A]. There were new attacks against our plan we’d never seen before[such as kritiks, which are not common in 1-4A], so it was hard to adjust at first. We are a team that attacks stock issues, funding and the timeline of the plan, however, 5A judges do not vote on most of these issues. That is not how 5A does it,” said Otting.

Both teams won two out of five rounds. Barrette and Rayl beat Shawnee Heights during the second round, giving them their only loss of the day.

“I think that Lane and I, as the negative team, debated very well. We won at least one of three ballots in each round. The hardest team that we debated was DeSoto, in my opinion, because they had an interesting case, but we held our own as the negative team and ended up winning the round,” said Rayl.

During Brady and Otting’s third round against Emporia, they believed their case had been stolen, allowing Emporia’s team to see the case before it was presented during the round and began briefing the Emporia neg team on what to attack. This caused Knowles to file a grievance.

“When the concern was raised by our Affirmative team, I went through the grievance process which entailed writing an explanation of what had occurred.  Then the grievance committee, comprised of 3 other head coaches, looked at the grievance and the KSHSAA Debate manual to arrive at a decision,” said Knowles.

There is no specific ruling on preventing the stealing of evidence, it is only assumed to be an ethical rule. The results of this filing will affect the state competition’s rules and ethics speech at the beginning of the tournament. Even though the team faced much adversity, the team is more prepared for the state tournament.

“We will take the knowledge we gained from the debate strategies we saw and the judges’ feedback we received and hopefully improve our attack strategy and strengthen our Affirmative cases,” said Knowles. “In a word, [we gained] knowledge.  We now know what type of debaters we will face in January instead of guessing, and we can use that knowledge to our benefit.”

The team will be competing on Jan. 11 and 12 at Garden City.

2-Speaker Teams:

-Cassie Martin and Sterling Hollond

-Erica Brady and Sofie Otting

-Lane Barrette and Brady Holland

-Lexie Glezen and Katie Cook