Chesterton Tribune

Photo: CHS defends state debate title

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State speech and debate champs: From left, AJ Rodriguez and Kevin Small, were champions in the Policy Debate team event at state competition over the weekend. Mike Frost was a runner-up in Congress.  (Photo provided)


The Chesterton High School Debate Team successfully defended its state championship with a resounding victory this weekend at the State Tournament at Kokomo High School. This was the eighth state championship in a row for CHS. Thirty-five schools competed in the tournament that began Friday night and lasted all day Saturday. Sweepstakes results:

Chesterton, 114.5; Brebeuf Prep, 38.5; West Lafayette, 35.5; Penn, 24.0; Munster, 21.0. The margin of victory was one of the widest in recent history.

The State Debate Tournament is divided into four separate debate events with each event having preliminary competition, elimination rounds that follow, and finals. As debaters progress they score points for their school while fighting for individual awards.

Policy Team Debate

Chesterton accomplished what no other school had ever done before. With 29 teams competing Chesterton’s four entries swept the field and captured the top four slots.

Tournament champions were AJ Rodriguez and Kevin Small. They defeated team mates Kelly Starcevich and Samantha Wuletich in the final round. In the semifinal round preceding this, Scott Coffer and Stefan Barkow and Sarah Svedsen and Phil Braunlich were defeated by their fellow CHS debaters and finished tied for third.

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Katelyn Holsclaw led the way for the CHS LD’ers. Holsclaw made it to the semifinal round and finished third in the state. Nicole Horvath and Matt Frost both made it to quarterfinals. Stephanie Leopold made it to octafinals.

Congressional Legislative Debate

Mike Frost broke to the final Super Senate competition and placed second in a field of 90 debaters. Rachel Wyatt joined him in the finals and placed fourth. Patricia Podguski also broke to finals and placed in the top ten. Amy Zehner broke to the semifinal stage and Shannon Alexander competed as presiding officer in the prelims.

Public Forum Team Debate

All four teams broke to elims. Ryan Anderson and Kevin Weaver broke to quarterfinals but lost to eventual state champion Brebeuf. Joining them in quarters were Margaret Knopic and Kate Weber and Melissa Frye and Sarah Christoferson. Matt DeLeon and Alex Sisto broke to octafinals.

This is the 22nd annual state debate tournament where an overall champion will be crowned. Chesterton has won the state championship 15 times including the last seven years in a row. West Lafayette has won it four times, Munster once, and Ben Davis once.

Jim Cavallo, Chris Lowery, and Kirsten Reed, CHS debate coaches, accompanied the team plus former CHS debaters Colin May, Tamara Carnahan, Mark Weaver, Lindsay Jancek, Joel Cavallo, Ray Rodriguez, Abby Deuberry, Amber Zehner, and parent Ruth Bonacci.

Speech coach, Doug Pishkur accompanied the team as a member of the Forensics Executive Council. After a late night dinner in Kokomo, the team arrived back in Chesterton at about midnight.

“This was an incredible victory for our kids. Three or four schools were close to us as we all entered the elimination rounds. But our debaters kept winning and eliminating the competition even as we lost a few of ours along the way. All of the CHS kids kept pulling for each other and the team spirit was very gratifying,” said coach Cavallo.


Posted 2/7/2005