Elk Grove High School debater named runner up at state competition

Elk Grove High School senior Mike Pauls was named the state runner-up at the IHSA Congressional Debate Tournament in March.

At the tournament, Pauls was also named to the All-State team. Elk Grove students Layan Safi and Ray Solorzano were named state semi-finalists in the competition.

“I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments by Mike and the rest of our team this season,” said Matt Bohnenkamp, the debate team’s head coach. “Mike's finish is a testament to his skills as a debater, but it also couldn't have been done without all of the help of his teammates doing research and finding arguments to use in the competition.”

John Hersey High School’s Mady Cohodes and Wheeling High School’s MJ Hurley were also named finalists during the competition.

Every year, the IHSA Congressional Debate Tournament is held at the University of Illinois at Springfield, where students research and debate bills just like members of the U.S. Congress. In this year’s competition, students competed in preliminary rounds and 65 moved on to the semi-final round. Only 16 students advanced to the finals.

Bills this year included topics such as North Korea, congressional term limits, creating a smart electric grid and nuclear warfare.

During this year’s season, the Elk Grove congressional debate team won two first place trophies at the Illinois Congressional Debate Association (ICDA) tournaments and finished 10th at the ICDA state tournament out of 23 schools competing.

Bohnenkamp said he is proud of the work the entire team put in throughout the debate season, which begins at the start of the school year. At the IHSA state competition, the entire Elk Grove debate team, including members who had already been eliminated, spent hours researching and helping Pauls, Safi and Solorzano prepare for their debates.

“Without the help of other debaters on our team, Mike, Ray and Layan wouldn't have had the success that they did,” said Bohnenkamp. “Winning the runner-up trophy at IHSA was a very exciting ending to our most successful debate season in my five years of coaching at Elk Grove.”

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