Tournament set in Virtual format
In the years he has led the Garden City High School debate and forensics department, Russ Tidwell has always had the goal of being in the range of finishing in the top 3 teams at the state tournament each season.
The 2021 season was no different despite the fact that the GCHS team got a late start due to the second semester starting later than normal due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place by USD 457 during the fall semester and then the start of the second semester.
So when his Forensics team was announced as the Class 6A state runner-up on Saturday in a Virtual State Tournament format, Tidwell was more than pleased with his team’s performance.
The Buffaloes finished with a total of 280 points, four points ahead of third-place Blue Valley. Lawrence-Free State, which had been one of the best teams in Kansas all semester in a variety of weekend tournaments, walked off with the team title with a monster day of 415 points.
“We had a very good day with all of our entries, but Free State had one of the best days that I can ever remember,” Tidwell said on Sunday, the day after the competition ended. “We knew they would be a tough opponent to overcome, but I’ve always wanted our teams to be in that 1-2-3 range, and when they announced us as second, I was really thrilled for the kids. They worked very hard and performed very well.”
There are three preliminary rounds where teams earn points for their finish. Then, the points are tabulated to determine the semifinals and then the finals. Schools are limited to 16 total entries in various categories by rules in place by the sponsoring Kansas State High School Activities Association.
Of the 16 entries for GCHS, 11 of them reached the semifinals and eight of those qualified for the finals. There were 26 Class 6A schools in the virtual competition.
Three of the entries for the Buffs placed second. That group included Jessica Angulo in Humorous Interpretation Solo; Angulo and Riley Metheney in Duo Interpretations and Jyothi Kalarikkal in Program Oral Interpretation. Metheney earned a fourth-place finish in Prose.
In Duo Interpretation, Maddie Stout and Chelsea Valadez placed fifth as did Jacob Wegener in Solo Humorous Interpretation. Sixth-place finishes were earned by Valadez in Prose and Anne Lofquist in Program Interpretation.
The team runner-up trophy was the highest finish for the GCHS team since 2015 when they won the third-place trophy and dating back to 2011 when the Buffs won their only state title.
“The kids worked incredibly hard throughout the shortened semester,” Tidwell said. “We competed in tournaments on several weekends, but for the most part didn’t have all of our kids practicing together in person. It has certainly been a strange year, but our kids were pretty resilient.”
Tidwell said that while the GCHS team had qualified as many as 24-25 entries for the state, the KSHSAA limits entries to those 16. While the Buffs qualified 11 into the semifinals, Lawrence-Free State qualified all 16 of its entries.
“They were the favorite coming in, and they didn’t do anything that wasn’t expected,” Tidwell said of the team champions. “We competed very well for us. At the beginning of the semester, we try to find things for the kids that fit their styles and then work to get them ready for the competition. What are the events in which we are stronger, and that’s the direction we go.”
Selections for the students come from Literature, Plays and Poetry and then they act out or interpret those selections.
Metheney’s selection in Oral Interpretation of Prose was Drop It to the Floor; Valadez’ was Bra Size Denial Ain’t No River; Kira Roth’s was Mick Harte Was Here; and Ruben Parral was Why You Crying. In Program of Oral Interpretation, Kalrikkal chose Every Single One; Lofquist’s selection was Perfect, Like Me. In Dramatic Interpretation (Solo), Selah Hageman chose The Amish Project and Lofquist performed Free Fall.
In Humorous Interpretation (Solo), Maddie Stout selected The B Word; Angulo chose The Monologue Show From Hell; and Wegner chose Sesame-Life on the Street. Kira Roth performed in the Domestic Extemporaneous Speech category. In Duo Interpretation, Georgia Fahrmeier and Natalie Unsworth performed Starting Monday; Angulo and Metheney selected The 9 Worst Breakout and Stout and Valdez chose Chicago.
Garden City’s Debate team competes during the fall semester.