The ‘States’ Are High

Speech and Debate Team Sends One to State Tournament

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Photo Courtesy of Dawn Azbill-Smith

Showing off his gold medal, senior Riley Pritzlaff poses for a picture alongside fellow UIL competitors and seniors Vyacheslav Adrianov and Aiden Seibel. Pritzlaff placed second in the UIL Congress Meet and will be advancing to the next round at the Texas State Capitol in January. “The first kind of debate that I got into when I first joined the Speech and Debate team was Congress,” Pritzlaff said. “So, making it to state my senior year is kind of a full circle for me, and owning my speech skills, learning this kind of thing, and having the opportunity and experience to debate all of these different ideas [with] these different people has been really cool.”

Ruchi Sankolli, Assistant Editor

After competing in the UIL Regional Congress Meet, senior Riley Pritzlaff, who won second place at the meet, will be advancing to the State tournament at the Texas State Capitol in January. Seniors Aiden Seibel and Vyacheslav Adrianov also competed, with Seibel placing sixth and Adrianov placing seventh in the meet.

“The first day [at the Capitol] is just preliminary sessions,” Pritzlaff said. “That’s more stratified, and there will be smaller groups. There will be two of those sessions, [and] depending on how I do in the first two sessions, I’ll have the opportunity to advance to the final session, which actually takes place on the Senate floor of the State Capitol building, so that’d be a really cool opportunity.”

 This opportunity, according to Pritzlaff, is a big one for him, as he has the opportunity to debate different ideas. 

“The first kind of debate that I got into when I first joined the Speech and Debate team was Congress,” Pritzlaff said. “So, making it to state my senior year is kind of a full circle for me, and owning my speech skills, learning this kind of thing and having the opportunity and experience to debate all of these different ideas [with] these different people has been really cool.”

The meet involved several different schools participating in a regional competition. The contestants first competed in what was called the Preliminary Congress Session, where fifteen people are in two different sessions. From there, the top three advance to the State Capitol competition.

“[The participants were debating] lots of different things,” speech and debate teacher Dawn Azbill-Smith said. “It was 18 pieces of legislation they had to prepare and be able to debate. It was a docket of legislation, just like the US Congress. Students from different schools write bills, and its accepted onto the docket. They’ve been working really hard, [and] they [had] to be able to debate both sides of that bill.”

The students had to utilize some techniques as well, according to Azbill-Smith. They had to plan their written pieces of legislation carefully so that they weren’t overwhelmed by the majority of people at their side. 

“You never know how many people are going to be arguing on each side,” Azbill-Smith said. “You don’t want to argue on a side that has a ton of people on it, because your chances of speaking are less. It’s strategy, it’s research [and] speaking ability. So much goes into it, and they worked really hard. I’m really proud of them.”

Other events for the Speech and Debate students include the CX District Meet in the end of January and invitational meets between January and March. The District Speech-Debate Meet, also known as the Sweepstakes, is on Mar. 28. Lastly, there will be CX State, which will happen over spring break, in which the top three placers at CX District will compete. 

Adrianov and Seibel, who are through with the Congress debate sessions, will continue to take part in other speech and debate events. Adrianov, who has already competed at the finals round of the regional Congress Meet, will be competing in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate in January.

“I’m most looking forward to [the] Lincoln-Douglas debate as it has been my primary event for all four years,” Adrianov said. “The last time I had the opportunity to compete in-person was almost two years ago. I’m also really looking forward to in-person extemporaneous speaking events as I feel like it is much easier to show competence and confidence in-person, rather than through a computer screen.”