Bringing Home Trophies

Speech and Debate qualifies most members for state championship in team's 10-year history


Yealin Lee

On March 7 Bonita Vista High competed at Helix High where many of their members qualified for nationals. Junior Renee Fagan, wins first place in expository speech and is one of the many that qualified for nationals.

Alexa Vazquez, Opinion Editor

The Bonita Vista High (BVH) Speech and Debate team made history with its performance at the State Qualifying A, B and C tournaments after qualifying 16 members into the State California High School Speech Association State Championship (CHSSA) tournament, the most the team has qualified in its existence of 10 years and finishing with a 2nd place Sweepstakes after the three weekend tournament.

BVH Speech and Debate members qualified in several events throughout the course of the three State Qualifying tournaments, State Quals A taking place at Carlsbad High, State Quals B at Helix High and State Quals C at Rancho Bernardo High. The State Qualifying tournaments began with “A” events, where students competed in Public Forum (PF) and Parliamentary debate.

“[When competing in State Quals], you’re competing with the best of the best in all of California, which is already one of the most competitive states for Speech and Debate,” BVH Speech and Debate President and junior Ursula Neuner said. “It’s an honor to be one of the best of the best, but it also requires a lot of work to be competitive among those people.”  

The “A” tournament saw BVH qualify sophomore Marcello Garbo and junior Gerardo Gonzalez Martinez in Parliamentary and junior Faith Talamantez and Neuner in PF, with several others making it to elimination rounds and junior Evan Abutin and senior Cassandra Ugarte as first alternate and juniors Damon Meyer and Darrius Montefalcon as second alternates for PF —  in case any qualifying teams were no longer able to compete. Following the “A” tournament, the BVH team competed at the “C” tournament in Individual Events (IE)s.

“The entire team was really happy. Everyone was congratulating us, and especially because this was going on really late at the tournament, most people in the team had already dropped out — they had already lost. But they were still there watching our rounds and supporting us up until 8-9 p.m. So in a way it was almost like they were more excited about it than we were,” junior and BVH Speech and Debate member Gerardo Gonzalez said. 

The BVH team qualified five individuals in a variety of IE events including junior Haley Renee Fagan and Neuner in Expository (EXPOS), sophomore Maico Moreno inOriginal Advocacy (OA), sophomore Nadia Martinez in Dramatic Interpretation (DI) and senior Cameron Loughney in International Extemporaneous (IX). The State Qualifying tournaments finished off with tournament “B”, in events such as Congress, Lincoln Douglas (LD) and Policy. Four out of the five BVH Policy teams competing qualified for state including league champions Moreno and sophomore Vincent Urbina, the 2nd place team Gonzalez Martinez and junior Leonardo Yniguez, as well as the teams of junior Derek Czapek and sophomore Lourdes Castruita and sophomores Samantha Bianes and Laurinne Eugenio. Following their success, the teams that qualified were recognized by the school on the loudspeakers and displayed on the school marquee. 

“It was awesome to hear my name over the loudspeaker. The team loves being recognized by the school because it doesn’t happen often. Oftentimes, sports teams take all the recognition and academic groups are left in the dust, but this just goes to show that we were successful because we worked together and we worked hard,” junior and BVH Speech and Debate Secretary Faith Talamantez said. 

Over the course of the State Qualifying tournaments, the BVH team qualified a “phenomenal” number of members into the CHSSA tournament, which was scheduled to occur on the 24th-26th. All the same, the coronavirus epidemic led to the announcement of its cancellation on March 1. However, its cancellation has no effect on the pre-established successes the BVH team encountered throughout the State Qualifying tournaments. 

“Even after the tournament, everyone was cheering. When we win it’s almost like we’re showing [the competition] that we can be just as competitive,” Neuner said. “We’re on an upwards trajectory, and there’s no stopping us now.”