TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Silver Lake High School Debate Team trumped the competition at the state tournament over the weekend. Members of the four-speaker team proved that dedication pays off as they picked up a state championship title after coming in first place.
“We do have a debate class, but that's not usually enough time to get everything we need for debate done,” said team member Joshua Schroeder.
“After school, we’re in here probably two to three hours a day,” said Nathan Cunningham, another member of the team.
This past weekend all that hard work paid off. Juniors Joshua Schroeder, Nathan Cunningham, Caleb Kampsen and Luke Fangman came together to compete at the state debate tournament, and this four-speaker team came out on top.
“I was really excited to learn that we won state debate,” said Schroeder. “I was not really necessarily expecting the outcome.”
This is the first time the Silver Lake Debate Team has won the four-speaker state championship in 16 years, the year some members on the team were born.
“For the last 16 years we haven't won a four-speaker state championship and with this being the sixteenth birthday for a lot of us we've come out of the drought,” said team member Luke Fangman.
The boys credit their success to longtime head coach Gail Naylor and the network of alumni that consistently comes back to offer support
“Sitting in that assembly and hearing that they had won was kind of a big deal because I was a part of that program and that was something that I never accomplished even though I competed at that tournament,” said Michelle Taylor, the team’s assistant coach and veteran member.
But with all four members of the winning team returning next year, the pressure is already on to repeat their victory.
“We came back and everyone was telling us congratulations and then the next thing they said is 'well now you have to go ahead and win it again next year,'” said Caleb Kampsen, another team member.
While the season is largely over, two of the four young men will go on to compete in the national two-speaker debate championships in May.