Juneau-Douglas High School closed out its season with its strongest showing ever at the State Debate Tournament held in Anchorage recently. The JDHS debate team finished in second place overall in the 4-A team debate awards, being barely edged out of the top honor by Chugiak High School of Anchorage. This year's topic concerned improving the performance of students in our nation's secondary schools.
The Crimson Bears were paced by seniors Tommy Fagnant and Sommers Cole, who finished in second place overall, losing in the final round on a split decision to Sitka's Mike Jacobs and Lucas Knowles, who took first place in policy debate. Jacobs and Knowles, who finished second last year, represented Alaska at nationals last summer when the first place team was unable to make the trip. Fagnant and Cole finished the season with a record of 22 wins against only 6 losses.
Juneau's team of sisters Mari and Lia Carpeneti reached the semi-final round and ended up in third place out of the 28 teams which competed. They ended up with an overall record of 5 wins against 2 losses for the three-day competition.
``This was a team which really peaked near the end of the season,'' said Juneau coach Bill Ralston. ``After finishing second in the regional tournament in Ketchikan with a 4-1 record, Lia and Mari Capreneti came on strong at state and were vital to Juneau's overall finish,'' he added.
According to Ralston, Region 5 was well-represented, with 5 of the 8 teams reaching semi-finals, being from Southeast.
Ralston said, ``In my nine years of coaching, it is almost unheard of that two teams from the same school reach semi-finals, but this year Juneau achieved that standard. I am very proud of the debate team.`` He added, ``This really gives an indication of the level of competition in Southeast. It is certainly among the best in the state.''
Juneau's success in the preliminary rounds, as well as the advanced round is what propelled the team to its 2nd place overall award. Other debaters for Juneau who contributed to the team award were Wesley Brooks and Mike Liliedahl.
Juneau also entered a full contingent of students in the forensics competition. According to Ralston, who is assisted in the coaching duties by Karin Reyes, nearly every student who competed made it to either semi-finals or finals in one or more of the forensics events. Mari Carpeneti took second place state-wide honors in Original Oration and was a finalist in extemporaneous speaking also. Juneau students Nichole Bauer and Hanni Liliedahl, as well as Brooks, Fagnant, Cole, Make Liliedahl, and Lia Carpeneti advanced in one or more events. Christa Fagnant, the only freshman to make the state squad for Juneau, gained valuable experience, Ralston said. Squad member Birch Badger also attended the meet as a timer and observer.
The Juneau coaches and debate team would like to thank the hundreds of community members who served as volunteer judges during the tournament JDHS hosted this season.