Speech, debate team places 1st at tournament


Ben Kimchi

The speech and debate team takes home gold after competing at the Mexico War of the Worlds tournament on Dec. 8-9. RBHS won first in sweepstakes, the overall competition. The team’s success follows a strong performance at Clayton and Ladue debate tournaments, with the team receiving fifth in sweepstakes.
Senior Joshua Vincent, co-captain of the team, sees the win as the first of many successes for speech and debate.
“Getting first in sweepstakes at Mexico was an important step for [RBHS] to do well at other tournaments,” Vincent said. “[Placing] first set a standard for [RBHS] to do even better at [the next tournament], and other tournaments this year.”
Along with Vincent, senior Kris Cho, chair of Lincoln-Douglas debate, felt pride over the team’s performance. The Mexico tournament was the strongest performance RBHS has ever had as a whole, Cho said.
“This is the first time that we have ever won sweepstakes at any tournament,” Cho said. “Even though it was almost expected given our recent successes, it was still very rewarding to see [RBHS] win first in the actual auditorium of Mexico.”
Cho attributes a large part of this recent success of the team to the novices, or first-year debaters. Like Cho, sophomore Sadia Moumita, chair of programmed oral interpretation, an individual speech event, agrees that the novice debaters are boosting the team towards success.

“Our varsity team is great; there’s no disputing that. The senior class, especially, is a powerhouse of skill.” -Benjamin Niewoehner, speech and debate coach”

“I am so happy that we dominated and closed out nearly every debate and individual event final,” Moumita said. “The novices have definitely played a very large role in our success at Mexico and other tournaments this year. They have grown as competitors extremely quickly and are performing very well.”
Moumita explains the novices from RBHS have come to be feared by other schools, and continue to bolster the team. This rise in performance levels is also attributable to the varsity members of the team, debate coach and sponsor Benjamin Niewoehner said.
“Our varsity team is great; there’s no disputing that,” Niewoehner said. “The senior class, especially, is a powerhouse of skill.”
Vincent hopes to take this growth and success to future tournaments. This is especially true for tournaments in larger cities, Vincent said.
“Overall, [RBHS] did exceptionally,” Vincent said. “The only task now, is to move that to St. Louis and Kansas City.”
Continuing their win streak will prove difficult for the speech and debate team as they move into competitive district and state tournaments. Despite the challenges ahead, the team remains optimistic for the second half of the season.
“I’m particularly proud of our novices this year,” Cho said. “We have unprecedented successes with the novices and I am incredibly fortunate to be a senior this year and to be gifted with being their mentor. They’re a group of very bright and passionate students, and I think they’re going to carry this successful Rock Bridge’s legacy and prominence within the Missouri debate circuit.”