PITTSBURG — After days and nights of practice, the Pittsburg High School speech and debate students’ hard work paid off.

The students left Pittsburg in mid-June to go to the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“I would say this was the best showing at nationals we’ve ever had collectively,” PHS Debate and Forensics Advisor Julie Laflen said.
Although the 14 students who went to the event didn’t break in their main event, they all did well in the supplemental events, Laflen said. Laflen said supplemental events are like endurance tests.

Austin Edwards made it in the top 15 in Extemp Commentary as a semifinalist. It was Austin’s first time doing this event, which is like an impromptu speech.

“That was very exciting and was the best anyone has done from our school before in that event,” Laflen said. “He really liked the event a lot, he went into with no expectations and just absolutely loved it.

“He is very determined to go back next year and be finalist for that.”

Gina Mathew was recognized as being a four-time national qualifier on stage.

For nationals, she went into Expository Speaking where she had to make a five minute informative speech and ranked 32.

Both Austin and Gina ranked out of about 250 other competitors in each event.

Leyton Marler and Hailey Garzone took on Extemporaneous Debate, which put them against 700 other competitors. Leyton made it to round six and Hailey mae it to seven, the furthest PHS has gone in this event, Laflen said.

Another student, Mikayla Kitchen, made it to round three in proses.

The Policy Debate Team, Leyton Marler and Cooper Johnson picked up seven ballets, Laflen said they were close to advancing, needing only one more ballet to do so.

“To pick up seven ballets is still really, really great,” Laflen said.

Laflen thanked the 30 sponsors and the Pittsburg community which helped raise $9,000 to get the students to nationals. She also thanked the school district for being supportive.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.