Forensics team hosts largest tournament in school history

Head+debate+and+forensics+coach+Julie+Laflen+responds+to+interview+questions+from+a+local+television+station+at+the+team%27s+annual+home+tournament.+This+year%27s+student-run+tournament+was+the+largest+in+school+history%2C+with+over+300+competitors+from+21+different+schools.+
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Forensics team hosts largest tournament in school history

Head debate and forensics coach Julie Laflen responds to interview questions from a local television station at the team's annual home tournament. This year's student-run tournament was the largest in school history, with over 300 competitors from 21 different schools.

Head debate and forensics coach Julie Laflen responds to interview questions from a local television station at the team's annual home tournament. This year's student-run tournament was the largest in school history, with over 300 competitors from 21 different schools.

Photo by: Ximena Ibarra

Head debate and forensics coach Julie Laflen responds to interview questions from a local television station at the team's annual home tournament. This year's student-run tournament was the largest in school history, with over 300 competitors from 21 different schools.

Photo by: Ximena Ibarra

Photo by: Ximena Ibarra

Head debate and forensics coach Julie Laflen responds to interview questions from a local television station at the team's annual home tournament. This year's student-run tournament was the largest in school history, with over 300 competitors from 21 different schools.

Story by McKenna Hodges, Online Editor

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The debate and forensics team hosted a tournament larger than last year’s 5A State Forensics Tournament at Valley Center, with over 300 competitors from 21 different schools.

Due to weather cancelations, several of the previous tournaments had been canceled, which left this tournament as one of the few tournaments available for competitors at the start of the forensics season. Because it was a Saturday tournament, the PHS forensics team was unable to compete due to KSHSAA rules. 

“This was the only chance that people had to actually go to a tournament all season,” sophomore Audrey Goode said.

Head debate and forensics coach Julie Laflen said this amount of competitors was unusual for a weekend tournament. She added that it created problems, such as lack of space for forensics rounds and teams dropping competitors hours before the tournament.

“The only problem with planning the tournament is that I ran out of rooms to put competitors in,” Laflen said. “We were using every space we had available to us.”

Yes, there were moments of stress and struggles throughout the day, but we did make it work,”

— Ximena Ibarra

In addition to the increased number of students participating, a highway car wreck caused five teams participating to be late to the tournament. This pushed back a number of scheduled events and caused several schools to drop out of the tournament completely.

“The biggest issue once Saturday arrived is that a large car wreck on the highway kept about five schools from arriving on time,” Laflen said. “They were about 45 minutes late, which meant I had to redo the schedules for draw events. That was the hardest part of the entire tournament, I think.”

With all of this in mind, the students working the various jobs of the tournament said they were able to handle the large number of competitors. Laflen appointed senior Ximena Ibarra to the job of tournament director, which meant that she kept track of the large number of competitor scores.

“Overall, everyone helped everyone,” Ibarra said. “Yes, there were moments of stress and struggles throughout the day, but we did made it work.”

Goode worked the judges table, along with junior Jordan Akins, senior Amber Dial and sophomore DesiRay Laidler. Their jobs consisted of ensuring that every judge got to the correct room on time.

“We had some problems with judges not showing up but a lot of community members stepped in,” Laidler said. “Which is helpful and we’re always grateful for them. It was really stressful but the hard work paid off and it was great to help the tournament.”

We had some problems with judges not showing up but a lot of community members stepped in,”

— DesiRay Laidler

Goode said that although she felt the stress of the busy tournament, it benefited the program.

“It was obvious that that wasn’t the smoothest tournament that we’ve held, but everything turned out great,” Goode said. “We made a lot of money for the program by hosting such a wild tournament, but everyone still got a chance to perform and take home medals. Laflen’s motto for the weekend was to be helpful, patient and kind.”

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