Debate Competitors Earn Championship Title at National Tournament

NCFL champs
Shawnee Mission School District

Luke Bledsoe and Jet Semrick, Shawnee Mission East seniors, earned first-place in policy debate at this year’s National Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament.

The team demonstrated “extreme dedication and perseverance” to achieve at this level of competition, coach Trey Witt said.

“They have had an outstanding year, but any time they lose, they do their most to absorb the critiques of their judges and learn from losses,” Witt said. “Being coachable is an essential factor to this type of success.”

The competition, featuring a variety of public speaking and performing events, drew about 3,600 students from across the county to compete in Milwaukee, Wis.

Luke Knopke, senior, and Reilly Kenney, sophomore, from Shawnee Mission East, qualified for the semifinal round in duo interpretation. Senior Nicholas Wallenberg  and sophomore Zachary Wallenberg from Shawnee Mission West advanced to the quarterfinal round and placed 16th in the nation in duo interpretation. 

The following students from across the Shawnee Mission School District also qualified to compete in the national competition:

Student Congress:

SM West: Emma Worthington

SM West: Rebecca Cathey

Lincoln Douglas Debate:

SM North: Tyler Ruzich

Public Forum Debate: 

SM North: Zora Stewart-Jones and Hananeel Morinville

SM South: Cyan Ridge and Arden Larsen

Oral Declamation: 

SM West: Ashley Wright

SM South: Grace Vavek

Extemporaneous Speaking:

SM North: Arthur Bagdasaryan

SM East: Sam Sokoloff

Original Oratory: 

SM East: Margaret Veglahn