The PHS Speech and Debate team had a strong showing at State and Districts

Liz Peterson

More stories from Liz Peterson

May 25, 2022

Justin Waterworth

The Speech and Debate team poses outside the bus after a successful State tournament.

The PHS Speech and Debate team wrapped up their season with the State and District tournaments over spring break. For most, this is the most anticipated part of the season. All of the hard work of the speech and debaters came down to just a few rounds of competition. 

At the state tournament in Riverton, competitors faced three days of competition. Interpretation and Platform events held four preliminary rounds while Debate held six. The third day consisted of elimination rounds with numerous competitors advancing to further rounds.

“It was a very successful season,” senior Aiden Chandler said. “Looking at years past, we haven’t had as much success as we did this year. We really saw the younger members of our team step up at both State and Districts.”

Elimination rounds started out with freshman Salem Brown breaking into Lincoln-Douglas Octofinals and sophomore Isabella Gomez advancing to quarter finals. Both debaters held impressive records in preliminary rounds. Gomez also went to Super Congress. Chandler and his partner junior Dacovney Brochu advanced all the way to finals and took first place overall in Public Forum Debate. Sophomore Allie Gilliat broke into semifinals in Informative. Additionally, sophomore Emma Johnson and junior Etthan Cearlock broke to semis in Extemporaneous Speaking. 

“The end of the season is bittersweet,” Gilliat said. “We had a big improvement from last year. We had a really great debate team and even our freshmen did really well. I can only see us improving and getting better in the future.”

Right after State, the speech team packed up once again and traveled to Rock Springs for the District tournament. This tournament decides who goes to Nationals in June. 

Chandler and Brochu qualified in Public Forum as well as their individual events. Because of the restrictions on events, both competitors will attend Nationals in Public Forum. Several other members qualified as alternates for the National tournament. 

“I was really happy with how everything turned out,” Brochu said. “I definitely plan on continuing the debate next year and continue being a captain. I love this team, and I’ll definitely keep contributing where I can.”

Brochu and Chandler were captains this year and worked closely alongside Head Coach Mrs. Nicole Maier-Reitz and Assistant Coach Mr. Justin Waterworth to ensure the team ran smoothly and were well prepared for anything.

“I know Mr. Waterworth did a great job with helping the debaters, and Coach Maier always does a great job in preparing the interpretation events,” Gilliat said. “Our captains were really great leaders and were able to take over the role of a coach when needed.”

The end of the season means saying goodbye to the team’s only senior, Aiden Chandler. Chandler has been on the team for all four years of highschool and has achieved many accomplishments and awards. 

“Looking back at the last four years that I have been in speech and debate, and I just can’t believe that it’s actually over now,” Chandler said. “I have no regrets because we finished in the best way possible with a state title. It’s a huge honor.”

Looking back at the last four years that I have been in speech and debate, I just can’t believe that it’s actually over now. I have no regrets because we finished in the best way possible with a state title. It’s a huge honor.”

— Aiden Chandler

Although the team is losing a vital member, the team plans to continue its conquest for winning.

“We had a hard time connecting to begin with, but I think we were able to really bond and come together as a team,” Brochu said. “This bond just goes to show how strong we are as a team and allows us to continue to grow and progress in future years.”