The PHS Speech and Debate team had a strong showing at the annual Northwest College Speech tournament

Emma Johnson

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JoAnn Moore

The Speech and Debate team brought home two trophies commeriating their hard-fought win at the first varsity tournament of the season on Jan. 8. From left, freshman Salem Brown, sophomore Emma Johnson, sophomore Liz Peterson, junior Dacovney Brochu, senior Aiden Chandler, freshman Paul Cox, freshman Isabelle Lobinger and junior Ethan Cearlock.

For some, the experience of winning cannot adequately be put into words. Between the pure elation felt in the heat of the moment and the celebration that follows after, it is common for those involved with such an event to have a hard time conveying it to others. 

However, with the PHS Speech and Debate team, all you had to do was see the smiles on everyone’s faces to understand that sentiment. 

Nearly two years since the last in-person tournament, the after school club took the Northwest College Annual Speech tournament by storm, accumulating a total of 80 points in the All-Division Debate category, and 95 points in 3A Sweepstakes this past Saturday. 

“I knew that we would win the debate sweepstakes just based on having half of the post-round participants representing Powell, but I was surprised that we had done enough to get sweepstakes,” PMS Language Arts and Composition teacher Mr. Justin Waterworth said. “It was a good surprise though, and this tournament is a tough one where you don’t know what to expect in any event.” 

Along with the numerous events that were offered at this tournament, one of those events everyone had their eyes on was Public Forum (PF). All three teams had qualified into the semi-final rounds, which left the team in a very interesting position: they could have potentially closed out the bracket, allowing all of the Powell PFer’s to tie for first place. 

“If we had the number of teams required to do so I would expect to close out semifinals and take all of the sweepstakes points every weekend,” Mr. Waterworth said. “My ultimate goal would be to close out as many tournaments as possible.” 

But unfortunately, freshmen Paul Cox and Isabelle Lobigner lost to the formidable opponents from Natrona County, leaving the other two teams to decide who would advance to finals. After deliberating, it was decided that junior Dacovney Brochu and senior Aiden Chandler would advance to the final round, who would ultimately take first place. 

“I was very excited when we won,” Brochu said. “It felt like all the work we had put in had been worth it. And honestly, I am so proud of all of the PF debaters. Doing so well at a varsity tournament is really impressive; I’m definitely looking forward to the team’s success.” 

It felt like all the work we had put in had been worth it. And honestly, I am so proud of all of the PF debaters. Doing so well at a varsity tournament is really impressive; I’m definitely looking forward to the team’s success.”

— Dacovney Brochu

 But it wasn’t just the PF partners that had majorly contributed to the team. Junior Ethan Cearlock placed 5th in Congress and sophomore Isabella Gomez placed 3rd in Congress. Freshman Salem Brown also placed 1st in her event of Lincoln Douglas debate, a huge milestone for the new debater. 

“That was super cool because I kind of expected to make it because of how few people were there at the tournament,” Brown said. “I wasn’t 100% sure though, so I still was kind of shocked when I saw my name up on the posting.”

And along with all of the victories for the day, there were a few members on the team who were able to learn something new from competing at an in-person tournament for the first time as well. 

“I’ve started to realize that there’s always some nerves with any round, whether it is virtual or in-person,” sophomore Nolan Reitz said. “And so far, with my experience of one in-person round so far, I think I’d actually go with the online setting just because you can sort of zone out and not have to worry about paying attention to every single person’s piece.” 

As the journey of this group progresses, it is without a doubt that everyone on the team is looking forward to not only the upcoming tournaments, but also the opportunity of being able to bring more titles home. 

“Despite…only competing in one tournament and having only a little bit of experience, I feel that I am on a team that can do really well,” Brown said. “While it’s a huge accomplishment for me to get first place at my first tournament, it really is a team process to collect all of those points. I am super excited to see what happens next.”