Kristen Lowe of Incline Village and her debate partner, Mac Cronin of Minden, made Nevada history last week by placing third in the nation in Policy Debate at the National Forensics League National Debate Tournament in Birmingham, Ala.
Their high school, Sage Ridge School, received a “School of Excellence” award in recognition for nurturing a trophy-level team.
Every March and April, thousands of high school policy debate teams across the US compete for positions to attend the national championships. Only one or two teams from each district — 213 teams total in 2013 — qualified to travel to Birmingham for preliminary rounds.
After two days of preliminary rounds, the teams with the best records then proceed to national tournament elimination rounds. Kristen and Mac continued winning through nine grueling elimination rounds over two more days, facing some of the best teams in the US. They eventually made it to the 15th (semifinal) round to place third. For most high school debaters, just qualifying to attend nationals is the highest accomplishment of their high school experience. To pass into elimination rounds and to ultimately get to semifinals and place on the awards podium is a Nevada first.
Policy debate is the most demanding form of high school and college debate. Two-person teams argue complex topics related to US national policy such as defense, space exploration, or national infrastructure investment.
To be competitive, students must invest thousands of hours over the school year and summers in training, practice, research, and tournament participation.
Famous debaters who credit school debate experience for much of their success include Supreme Court justices (Alito, Scalia, Breyer), many US presidents (Wilson, Carter, Clinton, JFK, Nixon, Johnson and both Roosevelts), journalists (Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Oprah Winfrey), actors and performers (Brad Pitt, Jackson Browne, John Wayne) and businessmen (Lee Iacocca, Ted Turner).
The NFL Nationals third-place trophy crowned a very successful debate year for these seniors, who were ranked in the top 20 nationally most of the year. They received a coveted invitation to compete in the Tournament of Champions invitational in Lexington, Ky. in April.
They were Nevada State Champions for the second year in 2013, and took first place at several large national level tournaments. Both were recruited to debate for highly competitive university debate programs. This fall, Kristen will debate for Emory University and Mac will debate for Wake Forest.
“I’m so fortunate to have joined this community of debaters from all over the country,” Lowe said. “And I am also grateful to Sage Ridge School and our parents for their support and sacrifices over the past 4 years to give us the opportunity to pursue this dream.”
Kristen graduated from high school earlier in June with a high honors diploma and received Sage Ridge School’s highest award for a graduating senior, the Headmaster’s Medal for her national debate recognition and also her academic performance and extensive leadership roles at Sage Ridge.