WHS Debaters Excel At Two Recent Competitions

The Wellington High School speech and debate team had a solid weekend of competition Sept. 14-16 at both the Palm Beach Catholic Forensic League Congressional hosted by Suncoast High School and the Crestian Invitational at the Pine Crest School of Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

At the Congressional, nine WHS debaters earned accolades. Among the novice debaters competing for the first time in their high school career, Rafael Blecher placed second overall in the Alachua County chamber, while Carl Kessler placed third in the DeSoto County chamber. Wellington also had two fifth-place finishers, Hayleigh Hansen (Brevard County) and Shae Hammack (Jefferson County), and a sixth-place finisher in Jaclyn Weber (Gadsden County).

On the varsity level, Juliana Diatezua ranked third in the Dunedin senate, Juan Arango placed fifth in the Bal Harbour senate, and both Ross Lustgarten and Michael Leatherman were awarded gavels as the best presiding officers in their chambers.

In addition, 11 students received at least one judge rank during the day in recognition of their public speaking performance in their respective congressional chambers: Dante Ficarelli, Maryann Villeda, Alan Radcliff, Armando Enamorado, Harrison Paul, Jessica Sorensen, Robin Eisenson, Sinclair Sadovic, Kwadjo Walker, Greg Foster and Olivia Davy.

At the Crestian Invitational, the Public Forum Debate team of Vinnie Gasso and Kevin Murphy went 4-2 in preliminary rounds, then won their double-octafinal, octafinal and quarterfinal rounds before being defeated in the semifinal round of competition. Gasso and Murphy finished third out of nearly 90 teams.

It was the second consecutive successful weekend of debate for the Wolverines.

Wellington earned recognition at the third annual Bulldog Invitational at G. Holmes Braddock High School in Miami on Saturday, Sept. 8.

In Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Michael Leatherman went 4-1 and finished fourth overall (out of 30 LD competitors). Juan Arango placed eighth overall, while Greg Foster placed 10th.

In Public Forum Debate, the team of Alexa Fortuna and Sydney Rogalsky went 4-1 and placed seventh out of 40 teams.

Blake Kessler received a trophy for his sixth-place finish in Oral Interpretation, and Kwadjo Walker was recognized for his role as Congressional Debate Chamber B presiding officer.

Wellington’s next tournament was Sept. 19-21 at the Yale Invitational in Connecticut, but results were not available by press time. The WHS speech and debate team is coached by Paul L. Gaba.


Above: WHS debaters gather after the PBCFL Congressional at Suncoast.