Tigers tackle state debate

TYE CHANDLER sports@theglenrosereporter.com
Mallory Daniels and Josh Martin represent Glen Rose High School admirably with a top-16 finish at the CX debate state tournament March 16-17 in Austin.

Coming off an 11-3A CX (cross-examination) debate title in January, Glen Rose High senior Josh Martin and junior Mallory Daniels were in pursuit of a strong showing at the next level.

The scene shifted to Austin on March 16-17 for the state tournament, as 68 3A teams were in town to delve into the topic of non-military development or exploration of the earth's oceans. Martin and Daniels did manage to advance to the second day in the field of 16.

"To make it to the second day, you either had to go 4-0 with a minimum amount of speaker points or go 3-1 with high speaker points," Martin said. "We went 3-1 with high speaker points, and our (initial) loss was to the same Whitesboro team we faced on day two. They were a really strong team together since junior high that deserved to win, so I don't feel bad about that loss. It's a tip of the cap to them – not about what Mallory and I didn't do.

"Our only losses were to the Whitesboro team that became 3A state champions. They're going to nationals in a different type of debate. We did advance far enough to be able to apply for UIL scholarships and to receive medals."

Daniels agreed that losing to the state's premier 3A team was nothing to get down about. Martin actually befriended them last summer at debate camp.

"We respected them as a team, and we were happy they won state," she said.

A first-time state competitor as a senior, Martin really appreciated the opportunity.

"It felt awesome," he said. "I really worked hard this year to be able to get there. We went up against some really hard teams.

"The teamwork between us was very good. We knew what we were doing, so we didn't waste time."

Daniels advanced to the round of 16 last year with partner Nathan Burroughs.

"I guess working with Nathan and then Josh just made me a more versatile debater," she said. "I was the first speaker in both seasons, so my role on our team was the same."

Daniels felt confident when the duo was in the heat of verbal battle.

"We had two really good affirmative cases this year," she said. "Being able to do either one of them and defend them well was one of our strengths. We had good argumentation skills."

Daniels said they practiced the same amount for state as they would for another tournament, but Martin reached out to his debate camp friends and exchanged information to help prepare.

Martin did his best to describe the intense scene at the state level.

"There is a lot of pressure," he said. "When you walk in, there's a room of at least 1,000 people with the top 1A-3A debaters in the state. Some judges just don't like me for whatever reason, but you get to read about what your judge likes and doesn't like ahead of time.

"I will ask my friends at the tournament if they've gone against certain opponents and what I can expect. If you make it past the first day, you basically don't sleep that night because you're busy preparing."

While proud of their success, reaching the same point she did in 2014 has provided fuel for Daniels' competitive fire.

"For me, stopping at the same point I did at state last year is motivation for next year, especially since I'll be a senior," she said. "I want to go farther. I've been accepted to Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, but I will continue debate if I do go there. I plan to go to debate camp this summer."

Although Martin's life is headed down a different path in the big picture, his desire to remain in the debate world remains.

"I'm going into the medical field, but I plan to help (GRHS debate teacher) Mr. (Brian) Sowell with his students and help other schools as well," he said. "I do a lot of debate research and a lot of people know me, so schools will ask me for help. I don't mind helping others try to become state champion and putting in work for them.

"Debate really did help me out a lot, as far as bringing me out of my shell to become a better person. It will help me talk to patients in my career."

Martin gave thanks to Sowell and GRHS UIL Director Shayla Hoffman for their help this year. Daniels focused her praise on a certain teammate.

"I'm thankful to Josh, because he brought a lot of information from debate camp - a lot of good evidence that we could use when we needed to," she said. "He was experienced, which also helped out."

The students were honored for their efforts at the March 23 GRISD board of trustees meeting.