Twelve Bingham High students will be spending the end of the school year researching and practicing for the National Speech and Debate Tournament.
The Tournament, the largest academic competition in the world, will be held in Dallas June 14-19. Bingham High hosted the national qualifier March 7 and took first place overall.
Those who qualified in policy debate include the teams of sophomore John Shackelford and junior Olivia Whiteley, sophomore Dillan Stevens and junior Chandler Ward and sophomores Tanner Lertsongkham and Nataly Welch. In Lincoln-Douglas debate, senior Miriam Leany and junior Megan Barnhurst qualified. Also qualifying for nationals are senior Tavish Monroe and junior Brooke Haldeman in public forum; junior Emerson Ford in foreign extemporary; and sophomore Kristina Bennett in national extemporary.
“Some of our students don’t have their new topics, but we’re already looking for new arguments, new strategies to prepare,” said Bingham first-year speech and debate coach Mike Bausch. “We want to have a few surprises that other students and coaches aren’t prepared for. We’re also focusing on fundamentals like speaking skills and research.”
At the state tournament March 13-14, Bingham’s Emerson Ford took first place in foreign extemp (a speech on an international topic prepared in 30 minutes) and the school took second place overall, losing to Hillcrest High in Midvale by four points.
“The second place was bittersweet. The students worked hard, but it wasn’t quite enough. I think it shows that our young team has a lot of potential, but still has room to improve,” Bausch said.
However, Bausch said his approach is different than in recent years.
“Students have focused more on state, but I want them to learn more about the process and how they are preparing. I want them to be ready to compete at a national level, to go beyond being a big fish in a little pond, but to research and get the best argument to win the debate, not just be familiar with every argument,” Bausch said.
Bingham debate is a legacy in the state. For example, in the past 10 years, Bingham has won eight of the 10 state titles and has been runner-up this year and another year.
Bingham had several second-place finishers at state including sophomore Dillan Stevens and junior Chandler Ward in policy debate; junior Taylor McKinley in impromptu speaking; and senior Tavish Monroe and senior Jake Russell in public forum debate.
Sophomores Tanner Lertsongkham and Nataly Welch won third place at state in policy debate.
Bingham also took first place overall March 7 at the Sundance Region Debate Tournament at Jordan High School and participated at the annual forensics competition on the Berkeley campus of University of California in February.
Several Bingham High speech and debaters plan to participate in speech and debate camps in the state and around the country this summer to prepare for next year’s season.