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.
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
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.
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
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.