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Celebrating Fierce & Friendly Competition at the Citywide Championship

Thank You for Joining Us at the Citywide Championship!

All photos courtesy of Armand Langston Hayes Photography.

At the Citywide Championship, debaters from both St. Paul and Minneapolis UDL schools competed for the title of top citywide policy debate team and speaker in each division. Competition was both fierce and friendly as we celebrated 15 years of urban debate together!

Besides the competition results, community awards were also announced at the event, including Coaches of the Year, Sweepstakes Awards, and more. We also announced which high school seniors will attend the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) Championship Tournament this spring.

Find out our big winners below!

Coach of the Year Awards

Teacher coach John Tufte poses with the Teacher Coach of the Year award.
Mr. John Tufte brings energy and excitement to the Johnson High School debate team.

Teacher Coach of the Year: Jon Tufte

Our teacher coaches are the direct lifeline to the schools, students, and parents. Jon Tufte from Johnson High School reflects the values that our community holds in a coach – dedication, positivity, resilience, and so much more. Amazingly enough, this is Mr. Tufte’s first year as a coach – and he’s managed to cultivate a positive, competitive, and supporting team culture within his short time with us so far!

Thanks to Mr. Tufte, Johnson High School’s students are reaching their goals this season: “Thank you for your help,” says Nou, a Johnson rookie debater who shows just why Mr. Tufte makes a difference: “In debate this year, I’ve accomplished all of my goals and made so many new friends.”

Community Coach of the Year: Austin Ahlman

Austin Ahlman poses with Central Debate Team.
Austin Ahlman, pictured with the Central High School debaters, has been an irreplaceable asset to team and the MNUDL community for 5 years.

Austin Ahlman has been working with the Central High School debate team for 5 years, and we’re so grateful for his efforts and leadership in the community!

“Austin always knows how to prioritize what’s most important to the team,” said JV Debater, Riley Heine.

“He’s incredibly kind and respectful to everyone, while still pushing us to make sure we do our best. He’s a good guy all around,” says novice debater Maddy.

Thank you to Austin for being such a supportive, positive, and kind force for good in our community!


They’re Off to NAUDL Nationals!

Simon Jarcho & Isabel Kleckner of Washburn High School were chosen by the MNUDL community to attend NAUDL. This team represents our values of our league: lifting up student service, leadership, team work, as well as competitive success. Isabel & Simon both coach middle school debate teams and make a big difference for younger team members at Washburn. “Isabel was with me as my coach at Justice Page MS. She’s still helpful now, whether in practice or at the tournament,” says Athena, Washburn novice debater. “Simon’s so nice and he’s also great at explaining things to us,” adds partner, JD.

Highland Park urban debaters pose with awards.
Henry Kelly and Elsa Snowbeck will compete at NAUDL after earning the most points competing over the season!

Henry Kelly & Elsa Snowbeck of Highland Park Senior High School qualified to attend NAUDL with a strong competitive record over the season. Throughout the year, each partnership earns 8 points for every win, 6 points for a bye, and 4 points for a loss. Elsa & Henry earned an amazing 196 points over the season, a reflection of a consistently high level of competitive success, persistence in the activity, and a dedication to local debate.


NSDA Central District Awards 

Urban debaters pose with awards.
Senior debaters Tristan Kmoch & Zach Glaser have qualified to attend the NSDA National Tournament.
urban debaters pose with award.
Mason Eischens & Sam Groven will join teammates at the NSDA National Tournament.

Highland Park had an amazing performance at the Citywide Championship/Central District Tournament in the varsity division!

Three Highland Park teams, including Henry Kelly & Elsa Snowbeck, Mason Eischens & Sam Groven, and Tristan Kmoch & Zach Glaser, took the top 3 spots of the varsity division. These teams are now qualified to attend the National Speech & Debate Championship Tournament in Albuquerque this June. Congratulations!


Sweepstakes Awards

Most Participants – Highland Park High School

Highland Park debaters pose with coaches.
Highland Park’s team had an amazing 31 active participants this year.

At Highland Park High School, a whopping 31 students attended at least one tournament or six practices. Our research from MPS and anecdotal observations from experience tells us that when students are active at this level, they start to see real gains in their reading abilities as well as debate skills. Congratulations to Highland Park for building a team culture of commitment!

Most Growth – Como Park Senior High School

Como Park urban debaters
Como Park’s debate team nearly doubled in size after this year’s recruitment efforts!

Retention in debate is the key to seeing academic gains and supporting students to continue onward into upper divisions. Como Park Senior High School put hard work into growing their team this year. They’ve jumped from 8 active debaters in the past year to 15 this year, nearly doubling their total amount of debaters!

Most Active Award – South High School 

South High School debate team
South High School’s debaters spent nearly 700 hours debating at tournaments this year!

This award recognizes the school with the greatest number of rounds per student. South High School had a total of 340 in-tournament debates this year, spread among 22 debaters. That’s about 700 hours of debating total, not even counting time spent debating at practice. South High School won with 15.5 debates or roughly 31 hours of in-tournament debating per student!


Tournament Results

Rookie Division: 

  • CHAMPIONS: Gebresslasie & Mhrteab (Highland Park)
  • TOP SPEAKER: Nou Ce Yang (Johnson HS)

Novice Division: 

  • FINALISTS: Whitney & Mayer (Central HS) and Ezra Gearhart (South HS)
  • TOP SPEAKER: Ezra Gearhart (South HS)

JV Division: 

  • CHAMPIONS: Mason Rounds (WTMS)
  • TOP SPEAKER: Bryce Chromey (Johnson HS)

Varsity Division: 

  • Top 3 (Sweeps!): Groven & Eischens, Glaser & Kmoch, and Henry & Kelly (Highland Park)

Thanks for being part of another great high school policy debate season. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for our debaters!

Want to support the MNUDL in our 15th year? Make a one-time gift or join Advocates for Debate.