by Taylor Massey
The Republic High School Speech and Debate team has undoubtedly had a year different from any other. Every tournament they participated in from September to March was online, which took plenty of getting used to. However, they were still able to make the most out of this season.
In early March, the team participated in the MSHSAA district tournament, where they came in third for debate and were the district champions in speech events. They ended up with six students qualifying for the state tournament: Garrett Silvey, Maddie Liska, Luke Willis, Phillip Lisun, Emily Goes, and Kaitlyn Walterich.
Willis said that he believes local tournaments run under MSHSAA should have been able to be in-person this year.
“In-person competition is such an important aspect of speech and debate, but we have been uniquely denied this luxury. So, if anything, this year being online should act as a wake-up call. This activity is important and must be regarded as such.”
The team also had students qualify to two national competitions. The team had ten students qualify for the NSDA National Tournament, which will be held online in mid-June. They also had ten competitors qualify to the NCFL National Tournament. It will be online over Memorial Day weekend.
This achievement is also a record for the team. Last year, they had three qualifiers to NSDA nationals. This year, they more than tripled their number of qualifying students and set a record for the team.
“Qualifying for both of these tournaments has been a goal of mine since I joined speech and debate and it means a lot to see this come to fruition,” said Willis.
Willis also said that he’s thankful for what speech and debate has done for him throughout his high school career.
“This activity has been the most meaningful extracurricular at Republic. The diversity of thought and competition, as well as the opportunities it has given me, are incomparable. The team is incredibly supportive, Karissa Talty is a wonderful coach, and overall, it is a great community.”
Results from the National Qualifying Tournament for Republic:
Dramatic Interpretation: Maddie Liska- 1st place
DUO Interpretation: Elli Woodward and Brooklynn Hanley- 3rd place
Informative: Taylor Massey*- 2nd place, Ayden O’Connor- 4th place
International Extemp: Phillip Lisun*- 2nd place
Original Oratory: Emily Goes- 2nd place
United States Extemp: Luke Willis- 1st place, Chantal Ogbeifun- 2nd place, Taylor Massey- 4th place
Lincoln-Douglas Debate: Phillip Lisun- 3rd place
Public Forum Debate: Emily Goes* and Talonah Sterling- 4th place