Debate competes in both Washburn Rural High School and St. James Academy tournaments

While varsity didn’t place, both novice groups had teams placing in the top three at both tournaments


By Jakob Twigg

Debate coach Ann Goodson prepares the varsity debate team before the tournament at Washburn Rural High School on Friday, Sept. 15. “I’m really enjoying Goodson’s teaching methods in the classroom,” junior Lauren Rothgeb said. “She’s doing a fabulous job of training everyone, and you can especially see that in the novices.”

Tricia Drumm, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Debate had its first meet of the season, a two-day tournament on Sept. 15-16. The varsity and one novice team traveled to Washburn, while the remaining novice team went to St. James.

Even though varsity didn’t place overall at Washburn, senior Allison Winker and junior Lauren Rothgeb went four and two, while senior Zoltan Gothard and sophomore Sam Crain went three and three. The novices at Washburn, however, placed first and second: freshmen John Lehan and Ben Weiland, and freshmen Manoj Turaga and Tanner Smith, respectively. At St. James, senior Michael Sandri and junior Eric Schanker took second, sophomores Nathaniel Greenfield and Travis Babcock were awarded fourth, and sophomore Aidan Taylor and freshman Romann Oertle took fifth place.

Being the first tournament of the year, Winker felt it went really well.

“[Rothgeb and I] won more rounds than we lost, which was my main goal for the weekend,” Winker said. “In that sense, I think it was really successful.”

Even though the meets at Washburn and St. James were the first the team had had since November, the tournament’s outcome didn’t surprise Rothgeb.

“It kind of went as I expected,” Rothgeb said. “We faced some hiccups where we had to, you know, dust off the rust, but in the end, I think everyone had a successful time.”

This year, according to Winker, the topic is about increasing regulation or funding from the federal government for the public K-12 education. Even though they’re new to debate, Winker praises the novice team on how well they’ve grasped the competition.

By Jakob Twigg
Senior Allison Winker and junior Lauren Rothgeb are all smiles as they return from a round on Friday, Sept. 15. “There’s a lot of people who are really serious and really excited about debate, which is kind of new,” Rothgeb said. “There were people in previous years as well, but I just see a lot more.”

“[The novices] know what they’re talking about. They’re comfortable with debate, and they’ve only been learning about debate for less than a month,” Winker said. “I think the novices are amazing. They did such a good job.”

Specifically, Crain feels a strength of the teams this year are the analytical arguments.

“I think the novices go a bit more in depth than the average novices do as far as making an explanation for their case,” Crain said.

Rothgeb accredits the success of the teams to the teaching style of debate coach Ann Goodson.

“She’s [not teaching us a lot of new information], but she’s really explaining and elaborating [past information] to us,” Rothgeb said. “The practices we have on Thursdays and the research we do on Tuesdays is really contributing to the success we saw.”

A personal challenge for Crain in the tournament was “trying not to be nervous and to just keep it cool.”

“It’s all about confidence,” Crain said. “If the judge sees you as a confident speaker, it’s going to mean a lot to your case. Going up there and being willing to ask really tough questions in cross-examinations is important. That’s a struggle, as well as keeping on the same wavelength as your partner.”

Winker said a challenge for her was “being rusty” and not having been in a tournament for a few months, but she eased into it and had a good experience.

“Going in and not having done it in a long time is hard because debate is a lot of mentality and feeling confident in yourself,” Winker said. “It’s really easy to feel like you’re doing bad in a debate. So, going back into it after not doing it for a long time, I definitely didn’t have the most confidence going in. … Once we got into it, then I started having a lot of fun and being more comfortable.”

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