Nevada Union’s policy debate team earned a bid to compete in the prestigious national Tournament of Champions by making it to the finals round at the La Costa Canyon Winter Classic.
Nevada Union’s last TOC bid occurred nine years ago; only 314 TOC bids will be awarded this season.
Few rural public high schools compete in policy debate on the national level.
Senior Kris Colen and sophomore Teddy Hill-Weld debated six times in preliminary rounds, earning a 4-2 record and progressing to eliminations.
They won three eliminations, earning a position in the final round where they lost to Polytechnic on a 2-1 decision.
“Kris Colen is an incredible debater who is willing to push me as hard as necessary but also be supportive enough so we can work well together as a team,” Hill-Weld said.
Colen also won first place as top speaker at the tournament, his second top speaker award this season. Colen and Hill-Weld need one more bid to qualify for the TOC, which they will attempt next at Gonzaga University’s tournament in early January.
Although a TOC bid may be a rarity for NU in the past decade, the 2013-14 debate team carries on their historically strong performance with other impressive successes.
Colen won top speaker in the varsity division at Long Beach’s Jack Howe Memorial in September, while freshman Leo Zlimen won the same award in the novice division. A few weeks ago at the Santa Clara University Dempsey-Cronin Memorial, the freshmen team of Stephanie Ulatowski and MacKenzie Nelson won the novice division, including a perfect 6-0 record in preliminary rounds.
Nelson claims an unorthodox strategy contributed to their success.
“We just said the phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’ before every debate, and we always got the win,” Nelson said.
Seniors Colen and Connor Hayes advanced to finals in the varsity division at Santa Clara, after being seeded second. Connor Hayes concluded the weekend by bringing home the trophy for top speaker.
One of the team’s long-term volunteer coaches, attorney Stephen E. Goldberg, says of the La Costa results, “This success is a tribute to the great work done by the team with very limited resources. With this to build on, NU debate has a very bright future.”
Visit www.NUdebate.org for information.