Jackson’s local speech and debate team just notched a huge accomplishment that had little to do with actually competing.
Over the past week, the Jackson Hole High School speech and debate team hosted the largest tournament held in Wyoming this season, according to a team press release. Teams from 31 schools competed with more than 500 individual entries.
Generally, the host school doesn’t compete, and the Jackson students’ slate was certainly reduced, but they still entered a few events, coming away with several podium placements. Senior and team captain Joshua Hansen tied for third in extemporaneous debate, an event in which several Jackson entrants made the octofinals (one round before the quarterfinals).
In the same event, Junior William Aepli made the final round. The event requires students to debate for 17 minutes on an assigned side of a topic, with 30 minutes of preparation.
Aepli was given the opposition argument in a debate about whether United States territories should be apportioned representatives based on their populations. In a 2-1 vote, he took the top spot.
The junior wasn’t the only local to find the top of the podium. Jackson students dominated the prose interpretation event, taking four of the top five spots. Junior Carter Worcester won, followed by sophomore Ventura Garcia Perez (third), sophomore Blanca Sartillo Mejia (fourth) and sophomore Sophie Lamb (fifth).
Hansen, the team captain, led the charge in the editorial commentary event, and Aepli and Lamb rounded out the podium.
Hosting a tournament is a huge endeavor, and it requires a multitude of volunteer judges. The team’s press release said it had 551 judging slots that needed to be filled.
The virtual format of the tournament allowed judges from all over to help. People from as far away as Michigan volunteered, and alumni from around the country were able to tune in.
“I always wanted to judge but have never been in the area to do so until now. ... I guess there’s something to celebrate about having to hold the tournament virtually this year,” former team member Zach Bigalke said in the press release.
With the home tournament behind it, the team is setting its sights on a pair of contests this weekend. Part of the team will compete in the Camel Classic hosted by Campbell County High School.
Other members will compete at the 47th annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament hosted by Harvard University, which the Harvard Debate Council calls the “largest and most prestigious high school speech and debate tournament in the country.”