By Wendy Sweeter
Coach Mike Larson, Xavier Larson, Gunnar Geiken and Kaylee Bosma competed at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in June in Louisville, KY.
Three Lennox High School students made the trip to Louisville, KY, to debate students from around the country and the world in June.
Junior Gunnar Geiken and 2022 graduates Kaylee Bosma and Xavier Larson represented Lennox and South Dakota at the National Speech & Debate Tournament. The team is coached by longtime Lennox coach and Xavier’s dad, Mike Larson.
All of the students experienced their first in-person nationals together. They qualified last year, but COVID made the national contest virtual. Bosma and Xavier made it to nationals in 2020 as well, but that was also done virtually due to the pandemic.
“It was a lot more engaging being in Kentucky instead of a computer screen,” Bosma said. “It was really cool being in the atmosphere of Kentucky with speech and debate nationals because I was meeting a lot of people that were doing the same thing. We were all there to have fun and do what we really like to do.”
Geiken enjoyed his first in-person nationals.
“I think my favorite part was just getting to spend some time with the team and getting to experience the nationals tournament with the seniors and getting to experience their last time. They really made the trip great,” Geiken said.
Mike said Lennox has been fortunate with 2022 being their 16th national tournament appearance.
“We’ve had kids compete in different events and different types for several years,” Mike said. At nationals, they competed in six rounds of world schools debate. In order to move out of the preliminary rounds, they needed to have at least a 4-2 record. Their record was 3-3.
“They ended with a 3-3 record, still giving them the best record for South Dakota and then just feel a little short of the out rounds,” Mike said.
Over the past four years, Mike said it has been amazing to see these three develop their own strengths.
“I’ve been so impressed with what they’ve done and how they’ve grown into their areas,” Mike said.
Bosma usually participates in oratory and informative in speech and public forum in debate and has been on the speech and debate team for her four years of high school. She said speech and debate has helped her with public speaking and her critical thinking skills.
“It is a lot easier for me tot all in front of people. It is a lot easier for me to use concise language that helps me get my point across,” Bosma said.
Xavier has been doing speech and debate since sixth grade and has competed in every event offered at Lennox High School. His favorites were humor, storytelling and public forum. Geiken does Lincoln Douglas and extemporaneous speaking.
“I learned a lot about what our strengths are and how they intermingle,” Xavier said.
All three students encourage other students to participate in speech and debate. Xavier said speech and debate helps with confidence, helps a person speak coherently and making lifetime friends.
Bosma said people might think they need to be good at speaking, debating or want to argue in order to participate. She said that’s not necessarily true and helps a person grow.
“I had a speech impediment when I was younger. I didn’t like talking in front of people going into speech and debate, but it really allows you to grow as a person and if anybody is interested, you don’t have to be the best of the best,” Bosma said. “You have the ability to grow so I think that’s the amazing aspect of speech and debate.”