Chesterton Tribune



CHS Debate team wins back to back State titles

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Chesterton High School successfully defended their IHSFA state title against a tremendous challenge from West Lafayette over the weekend.

The final margin of 89 to 87.5 was one of the narrowest differences in the history of the event, which has awarded a team state championship every year since 1983. This is the CHS team’s 25th State title in Debate.

“We knew that we had a team capable of winning this state title, but we also felt that the kids from Munster and West Lafayette were equally deserving” said Program Director Chris Lowery. “We had talked at the beginning of the season about how we wanted to go about our defense, and it included a goal of not only a team state championship, but individual titles to go along with it.”

The team delivered in a big way, not only winning two of the four individual events, but by ‘closing out’ both of those finals, reminding everyone of how dominant the Chesterton team was all year.

Seniors dominated Lincoln-Douglas debate. The philosophical event saw CHS students Abby Burke and Eric Zhong square off in the final round. The topic was ‘just governments ought to force employers to pay a living wage.’ Burke represented the negative position and won on a 3 - 2 decision. This was Burke’s second consecutive state championship in Lincoln-Douglas, a feat that has only been done once in the history of the IHSFA competition. “It was incredible how Abby Burke tackled the defense of her title all year long, it was more than any coach could have ever asked for,” coach Shane Smith said.

After attending nearly every tournament this year, Burke amassed a record of 45 - 5 in Indiana competitions. Burke was also named the IHSFA Brittain Award winner for Mental Attitude, the only award that is voted on by the executive board of the organization. This was the school’s eighth state championship in the event.

Not to be forgotten was the performance of fellow senior Eric Zhong. Zhong was a semifinalist in Lincoln-Douglas last year and dominated this tournament to secure his berth in the final round. Lincoln-Douglas was the largest, and therefore the most difficult to break into elimination rounds, of the four events.

“We are honored that these two competitors have pushed each other to get better every day in practice and at tournaments, and we are really excited that both are representing the team at Nationals this summer,” said Lowery. The Lincoln-Douglas event is co-coached by Shane Smith and Josh Coots.

It was juniors who stole the stage in Policy Debate, the IHSFA’s oldest event. Policy debate pits two teams against each other on a resolution that they have had for an entire year. The team of Tim Vincent and Joel Peterson defeated teammates Nathan Poczekay and Fred Owens in the final round. This year’s topic is on the US Federal Government ocean development policies. Vincent/Peterson represented the negative position against the Poczekay/Owens case advocating for the creation of a coral reef conservation/restoration policy. Vincent/Peterson were dominant throughout the entire tournament, winning 19 out of the 20 decisions rendered in their rounds. This is the 16th state championship in the event for the school.

Chesterton’s four teams dominated the entire event, only dropping one decision in the preliminary rounds. Senior’s Katherine Bolek and Nadia Mario earned third place for the second consecutive year, while teammates Alex Genetski and Mark Wilcox were upset in the Quarterfinal round by a West Lafayette team running a new case that the team was unprepared for. The event is coached by Chris Lowery. “All of our scenarios for winning the team title involved us dominating the event of policy, and our kids delivered beyond our incredibly high expectations. I am most proud of how the team worked together after Genetski/Wilcox saw the new case and worked as a team to prepare so effectively in a small window of time to beat it in the semifinals and seal the tournament championship,” Lowery said.

Chesterton had a decision overturned on an evidence technicality in Public Forum quarterfinals, which could have blown the tournament wide open. Chesterton’s team of Matt Eggers and Nate Burris had defeated a West Lafayette team until the technicality was revealed. After a two hour delay, the decision was reversed and West Lafayette moved on to claim three of the top four spots in the event, with Munster placing the runner-up team.

“It is unfortunate that the decision went the way that it did and although our team personally did nothing wrong, we are responsible for all of the evidence that we read in round. In our mind, Matt and Nate were the favorites for the state title all year long and it is unfortunate that someone else’s mistake cost them the chance to decide it ‘on the field.”

Eggers/Burris were the one seed coming out of the preliminary rounds and had not lost a decision by a judge all tournament long. Sophomores Hayden Hoge and Johny Mario were quarterfinalists (top 8) in the event and were eliminated by the eventual state champions from West Lafayette. Savannah Tipton/Eric Richardson and the team of Kevin Jugovic/Eli Winski were both Octafinalists.

There are two competitions within the event of Congressional Debate; one for the Representatives and one for the Presiding Officers, a group of students who utilize Robert’s Rules of Order to facilitate the debate.

The Presiding Officer competition is decided by a student vote, making this event nearly impossible for Chesterton to win, since, according to Congress coach Josh Coots, “no one wants to give Chesterton points.”

This year was the exception as senior JP Pritchard advanced to the final round and won the award for Outstanding Presiding Officer in the Senate. Although the point total that a presiding officer can amass is significantly smaller than the championships in other events, the difference between the semifinal round, which Pritchard made last year, and this year’s final round performance was the exact difference between first and second place for the team title.

Fifteen students make the final round chamber of Congressional Debate and then work as representatives to pass or block legislation. Freshman Sophie Burke was the only Chesterton member to make the final round, but did not receive an individual placing in the top eight. Andrea Drygas, Hunter Warren, and Paul Petro all made it to semi-finals.

The team also included competitors Katrina Balon and Galen Wong as well as student helpers/observers: Eddie Young, Katie Green, Liz Bolek, Connor Wantuch, Creighton Gaff, Hannah Geiss, and Gavin Scott. The judging was done by parents and alumni.


Posted 2/9/2015




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