Debaters headed for state
Baldwin High School's debate team accomplished something Saturday that hasn't happened in more than a decade they won the Class 4A Regional Tournament and advanced to the Class 4A State Tournament in Topeka.
"This really has been our best team in at least 10 years," said Charles Holvoet, BHS debate coach. "This is a big thing for me. They did it. That's the key.
"We need to be proud of these people," said Holvoet.
Baldwin used a four-man team approach with the affirmative team comprised of Matt Noonan and Chris Eichhorn and the negative team consisting of Jeff Wagner and Brett Myrick. All four are juniors. Alternates were senior Sam Reznicek, who stepped in for Myrick for one round, and sophomore Eric Jorgensen.
Both teams finished 6-1 during the two-day tournament at BHS for a combined 12-2 record. They received 34 ballots and 163 speaker points. That performance edged out second-place Girard, which also qualified for state, which will be Saturday at Shawnee Heights in Topeka. Girard finished with an 11-3 record, 33 ballots and 170 speaker points.
The championship wasn't decided until the final round ended around 3 p.m. Saturday.
"I had no idea (which team would win) until the last ballots came in," said Holvoet. "This is sweet."
The team, which has been competing since early fall, has won numerous individual medals during the competitions, but nothing compared to Saturday's title.
"I'm excited," said Wagner. "It should be fun at state. You're going up against the best the state has to offer."
It was the first regional championship for a four-man team since 1990. BHS debaters have had success over the years, including a state championship in 1981, two second-place finishes and four third-place finishes at state.
The most recent Baldwin debaters to advance to state was the two-man team of Aaron Anderson and Carl Anderson, who advanced twice, the most recent in 1999.
"Aaron and Carl went two straight years and both years they almost qualified for state medals," said Holvoet.
But this year, Holvoet knew he had the experience and talent to challenge for the four-man competition, so that was the strategy BHS used in the tourney.
"I think it was really the way for us to go," he said. "There was a lot of motivation for us. I just think overall we were just stronger this year."
That includes the entire debate program, which also had three novice (first year) teams go to the State Novice Tournament and one of those teams placed fourth.
Rounding out the Class 4A placers from Saturday's tournament, Louisburg finished third with a 10-4 record, 27 ballots and 190 speaker points. They did not advance to state.
In the Class 3-2-1A division, Silver Lake finished first at 9-3, 23 ballots and 149 speaker points. Erie was second at 8-4, 22 and 177. They advance to state. Kansas City Christian finished third at 7-5, 24 and 156.