Great Bend Debaters Place Third at Cougar Classic


GBHS Debaters: Hazel Stoddard, Adeline Dougherty, Katria Kindscher, Thomas Hendrickson

This past weekend the Panther debaters continued their successful virtual debate season in an 18 school online competition sponsored by Salina South.

GBHS sophomores Adeline Dougherty & Katria Kindscher placed third in the Junior Varsity division.  They were victorious over Topeka Seaman, Rock Creek, and Maize.  They were seated in first place going into the last round.  Unfortunately, they lost to a team from Lansing in the final round and fell to third place.  Dougherty was named fifth place speaker, and Kindscher finished fourth place speaker overall.

Freshmen Thomas Henrikson and Hazel Stoddard improved their win-loss record in the novice division.  They lost their affirmative rounds to Topeka Hayden and  Bishop Seabury  but won both of their negative rounds against Wichita Northwest and Topeka Seaman.  Debate coach, Kim Heath,  said that she “was thrilled with the growth that the Freshmen demonstrated both in their confidence level and in their understanding of the issues.”

At an online competition jointly hosted by Lyons and Sterling High Schools on October 10, three young novice teams from Great Bend entered the 48 team tournament from 33 different schools.  GBHS debaters finished with 4 wins and 9 losses for the day.  

Milena Carbajal and Olivia Roberson beat Sterling and Buhler but lost to McPherson and Dodge City.  Sophomores Drexler Gardner and Deiago Rodriguez were victorious over Hoisington and Rock Creek and lost to teams from Lansing and Blue Valley Northwest.  Both of these teams won all of their affirmative rounds where they argued for a need in criminal justice reform.  Our weakness was on the negative side of the question.  We will be focusing in class on developing our refutation skills and speaking in opposition to changing our current criminal justice system.  Hopefully, as the students get more practice, they will better be able to address both sides of the question.

 Henrikson and Stoddard also debated at the Lyons/Sterling tournament.  They lost to Pittsburg, Lansing and to two different Blue Valley Northwest debate teams.   

 One of the perks of online debate competition is that the GBHS team is getting to meet a wider variety of debaters from different locations in the state.  Coach Heath explained, “In any given round, it is just as likely to face a team from Hoisington or McPherson as it is to go against a school from Blue Valley.  Our students are seeing different styles and learning a wider variety of skills and argumentation strategies from their peers during the tournaments.”  She continued, “This is very critical to our learning because of the lack of Senior leadership on our squad.  Our young novices are seeing a great deal of diversity and different ways to be successful in debate.”

On the downside, virtual debate also obviously means a lack of face to face communication.  Coach Heath explains that, “the students are missing the casual connections and friendships that they build on the circuit.  I am missing the face to face coaching that happens on the way to and from tournaments.  It is wonderful that the activity is continuing, but I am sure that everyone will be ready to head back to in-person debating as soon as it is safe to do so.  Debating is persuasive communication that is hard to do over little boxes on a computer screen.”

Next up for the Panther Debate Squad are tournaments hosted by Lansing and Spring Hill.