PAOLA — Paola High School will be well represented at the debate state championships at Silver Lake, Kan.
The PHS four-speaker debate team of James Earlywine, Thomas Harp, Dylan George and Riley Scott won the regional debate championship at Fort Scott before winter break. They now are preparing to travel to Silver Lake after break to compete in the Four-Speaker State Championships on Jan. 14 and 15.
“They all did great,” co-coach Matthew Mittenfelner said. “They were extremely well prepared, even using evidence they pulled that morning, which I think the judges noticed.”
The four-speaker team will be joined by several other two-speaker teams from PHS who have qualified for the Two-Speaker State Competition at Silver Lake. PHS students who qualified include the teams of Gus Cook and Aaron Koechner, Aiden Howell and Danny Benton, Sammy Downum and Carlie Stallbaumer, and Mitchell Ball and Lilia Parks.
Co-coach Leslie Coats said Paola also had four additional debaters qualify for two-speaker state, but the program is limited to four teams by KSHSAA regulations. The other four debaters are juniors Jennifer Jones and Rachel Reimer, and sophomores Aubrey Huber and Adeline Steubner.
“The four-speaker team had excellent preparation, which they carried through to their 9-1 record at the regional tournament,” Coats said. “Other teams qualifying at our regional were Bishop Miege at 8-2, Fort Scott at 6-4, and Tonganoxie at 4-6.”
The PHS four-speaker debate team has had success in recent years. They were state runners-up last year, and in 2020 they won the state championship over Bishop Miege.