State titles in tennis, golf and swimming are relatively commonplace at 7500 Mission Road.
But even SM East’s debate and forensics coach was caught a bit off guard when he found out the school’s four-speaker team had taken the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s 2013 championship.
“I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” said Trey Witt, who’s coached the debate squad for five years. “It was definitely surprising. We haven’t traditionally focused that much on the four-speaker division. There have been a number of years where we didn’t even qualify a team.”
SM East students Karl Walter, Henry Walter, Ali Dastjerdi, Erika Levy, and Shrushti Mehta, and Taylor Thompson, who make up the four-speaker team, claimed the 6A championship by amassing an 11-5 record and earning 31 or 48 ballots at the state tournament in Hutchinson Jan. 11-12.
Witt, who graduated from SM East himself in 2003, said the school’s debate program typically focuses on developing competitors for the more traditional two-speaker format. He was pleased that all four of SM East’s two-person teams had strong showings at state as well.
“It’s definitely the most successful state showing we’ve had since I’ve been coach,” he said. “And three of the six kids on the four-speaker team are sophomores, so I’m excited to see them grow even more over the next two years.”