Senior Champions in UIL State Debate

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Senior Zach Jones and Josh Smith after hearing that they had won the 4A UIL CX State debate tournament.

John Park, Managing Editor of News and Feature

Seniors Josh Smith and Zach Jones competed at the 4A UIL CX State debate tournament March 19-20. At the tournament they placed first as a team and Jones received the Golden Gavel award, first speaker, and Smith placed as sixth speaker at the tournament.
“I am overjoyed for them,” speech and debate coordinator Rory McKenzie. “To be crowned a state champion is an achievement that can never be taken away. It was such an amazing journey to be a part of and I am so happy for them.”
The Cross-Examination event has four preliminary debate rounds and then all teams that win at least three rounds advance to the elimination rounds. Nine teams advanced to the elimination rounds and then there was a single-elimination debate bracket.
“This felt like the final culmination of my four year of debate,” Jones said. “Finally hearing that we were the state champions will be one of the best moments from my high school experience.”

This felt like the final culmination of my four year of debate. Finally hearing that we were the state champion will be one of the best moments from my high school experience.”

— Senior Zach Jones


The tournament was held virtually this year. It is typically held on campus at UT-Austin.
“CX State was the first thing COVID-19 took away from us,” McKenzie. “We were set to go down to Austin that first week back from Spring Break last year. So, in many ways, this has been preparation since that point. They’ve been preparing for this moment their entire careers.”
This was the final debate event for both Smith and Jones’ high school debate careers.
“I’ve seen them grow as debaters, but, more importantly, I’ve also seen them grow as young men,” McKenzie said. “As human beings, they have gained so much perspective about what’s really important. Debate has this common idea of being very confrontational. As you grow in debate, you realize that it’s more about coming together for intellectual discussion. Zach and Josh can have these intellectual discussions like no one else. Trophies are nice, but this is so much more important.”