By Mitch Kaskie
The SM East Speech and Debate team has had a history of winning. Now they’ve done it on the national stage.
Last week East had 10 students competing in the National Speech and Debate Tournament held at venues around the Overland Park Area. The tournament brought in more than 4,000 students, which might be why it’s called the ‘World’s Largest Academic Competition’.
East must have felt right at home (not to mention they were one of the host sites along with SM North) while having what head coach Trey Witt considers their best showing ever at the tournament.
East received a Debate School of Excellence award for being in the top 20 schools in the nation based on their team results. They were the only school in Kansas to receive this award.
The team also had some outstanding individual results. Brothers Karl Walter and Henry Walter placed fourth in the policy debate category. Teammates Ali Dastjerdi and Shrushti Mehta also made it to the top 24 in the same category before being eliminated.
Henry Walter and Ali Dastjerdi were also nominated as top speakers in the policy debate category: Walter taking third and Dastjerdi taking seventh.
On the speech side of the competition, teammates Sam Bernard and Alec Armer also had a good showing placing in the top 60 in the duo interpretation category.
To qualify for the national tournament, each individual has to place in the top three in their event at the district competition, with about 15 schools in each district. According to Witt, East usually has a high number of students qualifying for the tournament, but this is its greatest success so far.
“If we’re lucky, usually we have a couple advance to some degree,” Witt said. “But having a debate team in the final four, and then the school of excellence award and the speaker awards, that’s the best we’ve done in my memory.”