Debate triumphs at state

Seniors lead team to qualify for NDCA Championship

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New Trier’s competitive debate team succeeded in the Illinois High School Association Varsity State Championship. The New Trier Debate Team travelled to Normal, Illinois from Mar. 14 to Mar. 16 to compete at Illinois State University for the weekend.

The competition included four different types of debate including Policy, Congress, Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate, with each earning separate titles.

The competition began strong for New Trier as the two Policy Debate teams made the Sweet 16, with one team making it into the semifinals. On the Lincoln Douglas team, 3 out of 4 of our debaters made it to the sweet 16.

Senior Will Thornton, the captain of the Lincoln Douglas Debate Team and the head of the high school debate club, took third place in the preliminary rounds and made it into the All-State Debate Team for Lincoln Douglas.

Thornton led the team with a 9-1 win-loss record in his preliminary debates. New Trier had more teams in the elimination rounds than any other school in the Lincoln Douglas division.

He also took home the 10th Best Speaker Overall Award, allowing him to qualify for the elimination rounds in the Lincoln Douglas division at IHSA alongside two fellow club members senior Patrick Tolan and junior Emma Mansour.

Although Thornton was successful, he said that for the future, “I wish there was more on my part to do more prep, work more with individuals, and more collaboration with coaches.”

The Lincoln Douglas team was guided not only by Thornton, but also by Tommy Serrino, Patrick Tolan and Emma Mansour.

Tolan mentioned that Thornton had a genuine chance of winning the top title at the IHSA tournament.

“Will has been an outstanding person to work with. He put a substantial amount of time into trying to win and entirely stepped up his game for the big tournament,” said Tolan.

Tolan often takes on the bulk of research and preparation for the tournaments while serving as a leader for his team. The team did not pass through the sweet 16 round, but still accepted their titles, leading them to the NDCA Championships in mid-April.

“We all wanted to win and it was somewhat disappointing for all of us to lose that debate in the Sweet 16, especially considering some of us really did think we were able to win the tournament,” said Tolan.

Because of the team’s overall success, Thornton is pleased with the performance of his teammates and friends.

“Everyone did their best and I’m super proud of my team and thankful for my excellent coaches,” said Thornton.

The next competition for the team will be the National Debate Coaches Association Championship from Apr. 13 – Apr. 15. It will be held at Glenbrook South High School and at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel.

Thornton hopes to return home with more trophies for the school to display.

“My goal is to hopefully collect some more metal for the trophy case and watch me and my fellow debaters kill the game,” said Thornton.