Emotional Endings

Debate season comes to a close after the State tournament


Photo courtesy of Ashton Koch

Millard West Debate team places third at the State tournament

Holly Rooney, Staff Writer

Nerves and jitters filled the members as they competed at the biggest tournament of their season: State. Engulfed in hugs and tears, the debaters had an emotional end to their season.

Millard West Debate ended their season on a high note at the State Debate tournament last weekend, at Lincoln Southwest, placing 3rd overall in the tournament with several members placing high in their respective styles: Public Forum, Policy, Congress and Lincoln Douglas.

photo courtesy of Ashton Koch
Allison Lueders is the Lincoln Douglas State Debate Champion and Second Speaker

After numerous tournaments prepped them before arriving at State, the debaters were prepared to give it their all for their last competition. However, at State, the tournaments are not set up in the usual way. Schools only send their top three debaters for each event and there are more preliminary rounds, which is also where judges hand out speaker points on a scale of 1-30. If the debaters had a winning record in their preliminary rounds, they would immediately break to the outrounds and compete in octafinals, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. If they did not win a majority of their debates, they were finished competing.

Skating past all six of her preliminaries, Senior Allison Lueders was one of the many members that was able to end her high school debate career with a bang. She defeated every one of her preliminary opponents and crushed every one of her outrounds.

After two months of thoroughly researching her topic and attending countless late practices to do practice rounds with her teammates, Lueders clenched the title of Lincoln Douglas State Champion and Second Speaker.

Millard West hasn’t seen a State Debate Champion in four years. This was Lueders first year competing in Lincoln Douglas, which is a solo event, making this an emotional accomplishment for Lueders. 

Representing Policy, a partner event and has one topic that’s debated for the entire season, senior and debate president Ashton Koch and senior Makayla Gill were sent into battle. The partners debated over education policy and ended up as semifinalists. They also placed high in the speaker awards, with Gill placing third and Koch placing fifth.

One of the most respected people in the debate circuit and former Millard West Debate teacher and coach Fred Robertson, awarded the Policy duo with the Socrates Award. This prestigious award is presented to debaters that go above and beyond just debating their topics. It’s given to students who truly make a positive impact on the debate community. This award allowed the senior team to end their debate career on an emotional high note. 

photo courtesy of Ashton Koch
Ashton Koch and Makayla Gill are awarded the Socrates Award and are the Policy semifinalists

From Public Forum, partners junior Ben Blumenthal and junior Joel Spence were runner-ups. Every month they get a new topic to research and debate over. They were able to defeat many schools but fell short to Millard North in their debate over the President having power in the military force.

Junior Andrew Larson was the presiding officer at State and placed 3rd in Congress. Congress is an open forum which allows everyone in room to take turns talking. The presiding officer is responsible for directing and calling on people to argue their point of view.

The Debate team made their weekend at Lincoln Southwest an overall success. They were able to walk away with multiple pieces of hardware that left them feeling accomplished at the end of their season.