Debate team takes second at State

Ifrah Sayyada, Staff Writer

You are talking so fast you can’t breathe.

You are trying to fit in every point before the timer stops.

You finally finish your killer speech that crushes the opponent into millions of pieces.

You know you argued well.

Blue Valley’s State debate team prepared for another chance at reclaiming the title they won last year. State debate was Jan. 16- 17 at Derby High School in Derby, Kansas.

The four-speaker team of seniors Emma Gunnar, Emily Milakovic, Arjun Prakash and Paige Waldberg finished second in the 6A division.

The two-speaker team of junior Alexis Vance and sophomore Caitlin Riffer advanced to the first bracket of final rounds but didn’t make it past this.

Juniors Elyse Kats and Joe Nicol finished in the top 16 in the two-speaker division.

Waldberg said the team had prepared for State the whole season.

“We have work nights every Wednesday where we collaborate as a team,” Waldberg said. “Most of the work is done outside the debate classroom, though. I frequently practice giving speeches in my bedroom until my parents yell at me to be quieter.”

The other two-speaker teams were junior Gennifer Geer with senior Sam Reber and sophomore Sarah Baghdadi with sophomore Maria Gnoza.

Debate coach Chris Riffer said he is really proud of the season and the team as a whole.

“When you have high expectations, like our school does for debate, it might seem like a let down to not win, but to be a runner up to a quality school like Manhattan, there’s certainly no shame in [losing],” he said. “They are a great school, and we debated really well to be in that position.”

Waldberg said although the team didn’t meet its expectations, they still were satisfied with this year’s season.

“Even though we didn’t finish how we wanted, I’d still consider state a huge success,” Waldberg said. “Manhattan was a great team and they got ahead of us in the very end. We did our best, and so did they.”