Lincoln High School Statesman

One step short of debate fame

The LHS Debate team at the District Tournament.

The LHS Debate team at the District Tournament.

Tony Martinet

Tony Martinet

The LHS Debate team at the District Tournament.

Sophia Boyt, Journalism Student

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The atmosphere was heavy with suspense. There was no laughter in LHS’s debate homeroom. Only dead silence could be heard as competitors waited for the results of their dedication; all 14 hours of the grueling practice in the week that led up to the biggest tournament of the season. On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17, 2018, at Harrisburg High School, the 2018 Rushmore NSDA District Tournament that would decide who would become instantly debate-famous and who would be left in the dust.

The high school held the most important debate tournament of the season – it decides who, from the Rushmore district, is eligible to compete at the national competition in Florida. The tournament was a glorious victory for LHS, but for a select few students, the outcome of the tournament only resulted in bitter defeat. A minimum of the top two entries from each division of debate and speech events qualify to compete at nationals. Throughout the two-day tournament, only the best are allowed to continue competing. Some, like Teranyhsa Sutton, were disappointed with the outcomes of the first few rounds.

“One thing I regret is saying that I was tired of the NCAA topic at the beginning of the season,” said Sutton. “I ended up with Capital Gains. The worst topic in NSDA history.”

Sutton specializes in a type of debate called “Public Forum.” The debaters speak about a new topic that is published by the National Speech and Debate Association each month. This year, the debaters were handed a topic far too in-depth and technical to actually discuss in the limited amount of time they have to speak. Unfortunately for her, Sutton was knocked out during the first day of competition. Others, such as Corrin Gillespie, managed to march their way to the finish line.

“At the Roosevelt qualifying tournament, I got first alternate in extemporaneous speaking,” said Gillespie. “My hope for next year is to actually qualify.”

Gillespie placed sixth in the final round and snagged the spot just below the qualifiers. Though she received a glorious mug for her devotion, Gillespie took the results to be those of bitter defeat. For most, the tournament was a resounding victory, and many look forward to competing next year. Even the smallest successes count.

“A success I had throughout the tournament was not breaking out in hives,” said Sutton. “I was so stressed I drenched my shirt in ketchup; not a cute look.”

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