Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Seventh in the nation


Courtesy photo

Alexander Marchal

Going to nationals one time and placing in the top 10 is hard enough, but Green River High School Speech and Debate team member Alexander Marchal was able to do this twice.

The National Speech and Debate Tournament took place in Dallas; and the Green River representatives were prepared for the challenge.

"Alexander was defending his fifth-place finish in extemporaneous debate from last year at nationals," head coach Carina Stulken said.

This year, Marchal had one big advantage - he had done this before and was not going to be intimidated by the private schools' competitors.

"I was still nervous, but it was a different kind of nervous," Marchal said.

During the first two days of competition, Marchal competed in extemporaneous speaking. The last three days of competition he competed in extemporaneous debate.

In the extemporaneous debate competition a half an hour before the competition a banner is revealed to show the topic the students will have to debate on. The students have 30 minutes to research both sides of the issue and get to their debate room. Then they compete against one another for 15 minutes. All 688 kids competing received the same topic. This was an increase of 100 competitors in this particular competition.

"Sometimes you get lucky; and sometimes you get unlucky," Marchal said.

Depending on the topic given, it can be slightly skewed to one side, he said.

Prior to competing, questions continued to pop into Marchal's head.

"Can I replicate what I did last year; and can I help my team do better," Marchal said.

During the double elimination tournament, Marchal continued to advance. Those who won their rounds competed against others who also won their debates. Those who lost competed against others who lost.

After the first round, 400 of the 688 were already done competing.

"I was still undefeated at that point," Marchal said. "It was really reassuring to make it out of the first day."

By the end of the second day of competition, Marchal was physically and emotionally exhausted.

"At that point the stress was beginning to mount," Marchal said.

"He was one of only two students out of 688 debaters that were still undefeated going into his last two rounds," Stulken explained.

On the final day of competition, eight remained. When he lost his first round he was upset.

"I was kind of frustrated because I thought I beat the kid, but the judge didn't agree with me," he said.

Even the other competitor thought Marchal had won; and was packing up his things to leave.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Marchal said.

Marchal was also sad to lose that round in front of his friends who came to support him.

"He beat four of the six remaining students in the finals, giving them their only loss to that point in the tournament," Stulken said. "Making it to seventh place out of that many debaters is absolutely outstanding."

"Alexander has left a legacy at Green River High School and will go on in life to do amazing things. He has a bright future ahead of him and I count myself lucky to have been fortunate enough to had the chance to coach him over the course of the last four years," Stulken said. "Back-to-back finals finishes at nationals has never happened on this team before. He has set the bar for Green River Speech and Debate."

Even though Marchal was a little upset at the tournament, he has had time to reflect.

"It was a good way to go out," he said.

Marchal plans to attend the University of Wyoming in the fall. He plans to major in math and economics.

As for continuing his speech and debate career at a collegiate level, Marchal is still not sure. Some days he is ready to move on and other days he thinks he should.


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