Free State High School debate team takes 3rd place at nationals

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The Free State High School debate team of Ethan Harris and Aiden Basore took third place in the National Speech and Debate Association’s national tournament Thursday night.

It’s a historic finish for the school’s program, and for coach Kelly Michael Thompson.

The tournament was held online, and the duo’s final two battles were livestreamed. They fell in the semifinals to a team from Henry M. Gunn Senior High School in California.

Three Free State debate teams made it to the top 26 nationwide. Serena Rupp and John Marshall, juniors who already broke district and state records at a previous national tournament, fell on a 2-1 decision after going 11 rounds. Simon Ruland and Jacob Wilkus finished in the top 16 after going 12 rounds.

Harris and Basore had already secured the highest finish in the school’s history by making it into the top 10, the coach tweeted Wednesday.

Two other seniors, who both won state speech championships in their categories last month, also made it to the top 30 nationwide: Emily Bial, in Program of Oral Interpretation, and Timothy Huffman, in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking.

Huffman will advance to the semifinals — the first speech semifinalist in school history, the coach tweeted Thursday evening — and he’ll compete in the top 14 on Friday.

All tournament results won’t be in until Saturday, Thompson said.

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