Debate team nears end of successful season, starts fundraising for nationals

Grand County High School’s debate team has seen major success this year and is looking forward to finishing their season strong, said head coach and adviser Carrie Strecker.

In January, the Red Devils took second place in the small schools division at the Marie Clegg Jones Memorial Tournament held at Utah Valley University in Orem. The tournament is named for and held in honor of a woman who participated decades ago as the only female debater on an otherwise all-male team.

Fittingly, Grand County junior Grace Osusky was the tournament champion in the Lincoln-Douglas debate category, beating almost 60 competitors to place first overall.

On Feb. 11, six students from GCHS traveled to the National Qualifiers for IEs (Individual Events) hosted by Springville High School. At that tournament, students are only guaranteed two rounds and then only the top half of competitors continues in each round thereafter, Strecker explained, adding that all six students successfully made it to at least two rounds beyond the preliminaries. Emma Millis, a freshman, competed all the way to the finals in the Original Oratory competition. GCHS junior Payton Webb placed third in Dramatic Interpretation and is a first alternate for nationals. Freshman Zella Ceniceros placed second in Program Oral Interpretation and also qualified for nationals. Senior Tobin Wainer placed second in U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking and qualified for nationals, Strecker said.

At the Region 15 championships in late February, the entire GCHS debate team had a strong showing, taking first place overall in the team sweepstakes. Wainer and Osusky tied for first in Extemporaneous Speaking, and Millis placed third in Oratory and second in the Congress category. In Spar (Spontaneous Argumentation), Aidan Guzman-Newton placed first and Aria Hunt placed second. In Lincoln-Douglas Debate, sophomore Phillip Geiser placed second and Osusky placed third.

Finally, on March 4, four students from GCHS competed at the National Qualifiers for Debate. At that event, Geiser placed second in Lincoln Douglas, qualifying for nationals. Ceniceros, Wainer and Geiser plan to raise funds in order to travel with coach Strecker to Birmingham, Alabama, in late June for the National Debate Tournament. They hope to also visit the Civil Rights Museum while they are there. The team will be planning community events and other fundraisers and team members said they appreciate any support received.

The Red Devil debaters are scheduled to wrap up their season by competing at the Utah state forensics tournament at Providence Hall High School in Herriman on March 10 and 11.

ByBy Jeff Richards

The Times-Independent