NU Debate Team off to strong start |

NU Debate Team off to strong start

From left, Daniel Sonnenberg, Kris Colen, Mason Moore, Simon Nielsen, and Nathan Potter pose with Colen's first place trophy during a debate competition at California State University, Long Beach.

The Nevada Union Debate Team has earned many first place trophies and top tournament speaker awards throughout the years, but this year’s team is not only one of the largest in NU history, it is also off to one of the strongest starts of any team on record.

The team launched the tournament season at Yuba City High School Sept. 22, with a 4-0 win/loss record for senior Kris Colen and sophomore Teddy Hill-Weld, and a 3-1 record for sophomores Joe Fenner and Randy Svoboda.

Nevada Union’s freshman debaters also did extremely well at their first tournament, competing in an open bracket that included both varsity and novice teams.

In one of the day’s highlights, two Nevada Union freshman debaters, Lucy Meckler and Walker Subbotin, ended the tournament with a 2-2 record, beating a well-known varsity team as novices in their first league debate.

With just a week to rest, 18 Nevada Union debaters then headed down to Long Beach for the Jack Howe Memorial Tournament hosted at California State University, Long Beach.

The Long Beach Invitational offers a very competitive policy debate tournament, attracting many nationally ranked teams.

For the first time in Nevada Union history, the team won the Top Speaker Award at the tournament.

Competing against 150 top national debaters, senior Kris Colen brought home the hardware with a first place trophy.

“I couldn’t have done this without my debate partner Teddy,” Colen said. “It was an amazing experience. Receiving the award was unreal. The first thought that went through my mind was that the second speaker is arguably the best debater in the state and one of the best debaters in the nation, and it is humbling to think that I out spoke him.”

To add to the success, incoming freshman Leo Zlimen won the Top Speaker Award in the Novice Division. Nathan Potter and Colby Scanlon also ranked third and fifth speakers respectively in the Novice Division.

From a team perspective, freshmen Daniel Sonnenberg and Nathan Potter advanced to novice elimination rounds, making it to the quarterfinal round.

In all, the Nevada Union Debate Team won 11 varsity rounds and an additional 14 novice matches.

At the end of October break, three varsity teams from Nevada Union headed to California State University, Fullerton for the next tournament.

Competing against 58 teams in the Open Policy division, all Nevada Union teams won some rounds.

Colen and Hill-Weld progressed all the way to semifinals, and Colen was awarded third place speaker for the tournament.

“This is a very exciting way to start the year and we are looking forward to continuing our great momentum into the rest of the season,” said Gabe Olson, one of the Nevada Union debate coaches who graduated from Nevada Union in 2007.

“It is great that we are able to engage students from a rural public high school in such a meaningful activity, and the fact that we are able to be highly competitive in the process is just an added plus. The debaters have prepared all summer for this tournament, and it is fantastic to see all of that hard work pay off.”

The next debates slated are tournaments at University of the Pacific and at Notre Dame High School in Los Angeles.

To learn more about the debate team and how to contribute to their Booster Club, visit or find us on Facebook at

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