Bearing News

Speech and debate dominates MSHSAA districts

This past weekend, the RBHS speech and debate team qualified 9 students to the MSHSAA state competition. t This result followed two days of strenuous competition at Mexico High School.

For junior Matthew Vincent, the team’s co-captain, the weekend’s success met and went beyond his expectations going into the competition.

“In individual events I got tired of standing up and clapping for our winners,” Vincent said. “We had novices beat beat varsity debaters, and were the only team to get special recognition.”

Vincent himself took first place in Public Forum Debate with his partner Anthony Robinson, a fellow junior. Joining the winner’s circle was co-captain Michael Pennella, another junior, who clinched a first place plaque in Lincoln Douglas debate only a week after qualifying to the National Speech and Debate tournament in the same event.

“My aspirations for state are just to experience good debate rounds,” Pennella said. “I put a lot of work and money into debate, and just want to do the best that I can.”

From freshman novice  Sidharth Kutikkad, who claimed first place in United States Extemporaneous Speaking, to varsity juniors Wendy Zhang and Zoya Khan, who will be attending their second state tournament in policy debate, the team’s state qualifiers covered a wide range of experience.

“We had novices beat varsity debaters,” Vincent said. “Also, we were the only team to get special recognition for our success.”

With the weekend’s glory just a few days old, Pennella said the team’s goal is to look forward to state and hopefully have a repeat performance of this year’s successful district competition.

“We’re really excited because we put a lot of effort into this,” Pennella said. “We’re just glad it was all able to pay off in the end.”

The MSHSAA Speech and Debate State competition will be hosted by Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, April 24-25.  A full list of state qualifiers can be found at

By Jenna Liu

Feature photo by Devesh Kumar

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