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Speech and Debate Continues Strong Tradition with Compelling First Half of Season

Sophomore Will Fanning and senior Jagger McCarroll work together to tabulate results during the 9th Annual Don Ramsey Invitational on Nov. 10, 2023. It was the largest year for the event, with 31 schools from around the state of Missouri participating and more than 550 entries in 15 different event categories.

The second half of the Rockhurst Speech and Debate season is underway after they finished the first portion strong, getting contributions from long-tenured seniors and juniors, as well as help from many underclassmen too.

Rockhurst started off their year with success at the Blue Springs South Tournament. Seniors Graham Adamson and Cal Burge claimed first place in Champ Public Forum Debate, while junior Liam McGilley secured a second place finish in Champ Lincoln-Douglas Debate. In speech events, junior Patrick Sanders won Humorous Interpretation, and junior Solomon Naraine won Student Congress.

Rockhurst kept their momentum into their next tournament at Grain Valley, where they placed fifth in Overall Sweepstakes and second in Debate Sweepstakes. 

At their next tournament, the debate team stepped up, as sophomore Andrew Hayes took first place in Regular Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and new varsity members, sophomore duo of Connor Clune and Liam Dennis, placed first in Regular Public Forum Debate. Clune and Dennis followed this up with another victory at the Lee’s Summit West Tournament.

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Connor Clune has been an incredible partner throughout this year, and is surpassing my expectations in about every category,” said Dennis. “I knew he showed a lot of potential, but I had never expected this much success in our first year. Connor is one of my best friends and I know that played a huge part in our team chemistry.”

In the Independence Winter Classic at William Chrisman High School, the varsity took  third place in Overall Sweepstakes. This success showed the future potential for Rockhurst, as nine juniors and sophomores placed in their respective events

“Our program prides itself on the ability to pass down the torch to the next class while still seeing the same success, and I know this year will not be any different,” said senior Aidan O’Donnell.

Rockhurst Speech and Debate closed out the first half of their season at the Raytown Tournament, taking seventh in Overall Sweepstakes. Naraine once again won Student Congress.

Despite the loss of successful seniors from last year, Rockhurst has still persevered and performed well.

“We lost some very strong seniors, however, our junior class has been able to showcase a few dominant forensic debaters as well as leading our Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum programs,” said McGilley.

Rockhurst is currently ranked as the No. 66 team in the nation. Additionally, Rockhurst joined the “400 Club” at the beginning of the school year, which is based upon the strength of the team’s performance the previous season. Other regional teams to achieve this accomplishment include Liberty, Liberty North, Shawnee Mission East and Blue Springs South.

Throughout the first half of the season, Rockhurst brought home 11 individual championships, led by Naraine’s three in Student Congress.

“I think we’ve had a strong first half of the year,” said coach Phil Helt. “We’ve continued to have boys do well weekend after weekend.”

As Rockhurst looks to the second half of the season, they set team goals. They want to have eight people qualify to the state and national tournaments, compared to the six participants from last year.

“Our expectations will still remain the same as it has always been, to work and do what is needed,” said Dennis. “I expect us to continue our motivation, and I hope the results show it as well. After getting a taste of winning, I feel like I want it more than I ever have before.”


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About the Contributor
Ted Truebner, Staff Reporter
This is my second year writing for Prep News. I originally joined newspaper to add on to my college resume, however, I stayed in the class because I liked the freedom I received in choosing my own stories and being able to write freely. In this class, I am forced to go out and find information by myself, opposed to other classes. I also enjoy getting an insider view on events going on at the school. Outside of newspaper, a lot of my time is spent playing lacrosse, as I play all year for the school and club teams. During the summer, I work as a lifeguard at Fairway pool. After high school, I plan to either take the political route or go to journalism school, however, I have not completely made up my mind on what route I want to take.
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