An Urban Debate Showdown: Central Beats South in Finals at MSHSL State Debate Tournament

MSHSL State Debate Finalists

After 8 challenging rounds of competition and a St. Paul-Minneapolis urban debate finals matchup, Kiernan Baxter-Kauf and Max Ulven are the MSHSL State Debate Champions in Policy Debate! Congratulations to Minneapolis South’s Sofia Burgess & Noah Winters for being runner ups.

It’s the first time since 2020 that two MNUDL teams faced off in State Finals. Let’s take a moment to recognize all the work these students and their coaches put in to achieve what they did this weekend.

A total of 12 Urban Debate partnerships qualified to compete at the MSHSL State Debate tournament at Sections. Many of them told us that, no matter what outcome happened, they were proud of their performances! We love to celebrate beating personal bests. Find the highlights below:

Central High School

Central debaters

Congratulations to Central High School’s partnership of Max Ulven & Kiernan Baxter-Kauf for being declared the State Champions!

Sophomore Kiernan Baxter-Kauf says, “I’m really impressed with how far I have come. I can’t believe I was a novice last year because I’ve learned so much in a short time. Our community we have here in debate is a wonderful place to be with great, supportive people that want to see us grow and succeed. None of this would be possible without the help of the League.”

We also want to congratulate the team of Eleanor Johnson & Elliot Miller, who were Quarterfinalists. Eleanor shared with us:

“I have been debating since Middle School, and if you told 7th grade me that one day I would not only qualify for the state tournament, but be a quaterfinalist, I wouldn’t have believed it… I’m also so proud of Kiernan. I’ve known her since she was in middle school and I’m beyond happy to watch her become a state champion tonight.”

Edison High School

Edison Team

Edison’s partnerships were Section Champions going into the State Tournament!

Abdi Mohamed shares, “I debated my first varsity rounds [at sections and state]. There was a big change in the level of competition, but I think I learned a lot, adapted well, and won some challenging rounds. I am proud of how this season went.” 

Highland Park

highland park

Highland Park was represented by two students who have been debating with the MNUDL since middle school!

Yao Buchl says, “I didn’t know I could debate this well. We debated really good teams and they pushed us to make the best versions of our arguments. You learn more in harder debates and we know what we need to win next time.” 

Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt HS

Roosevelt’s team was led by alum Tom Mickelson at this weekend’s tournament. Roosevelt team member Ani tells us, “Eleanor and I were really excited for State and we debated our best all season. Our goal was to double our record from last year and we exceeded it. It’s great to see how far we’ve come in a year, and we met other goals too, like writing a case with my teammates all by ourselves.” 

South High School

South HS

Congratulations to Minneapolis South High School’s Sofia Burgess & Noah Winters for earning their way to Finals! This team made it through prelims, quarters, and semifinals against excellent teams. Both Sofia and Noah agreed: “This is the best I’ve ever debated.” 

Tartan High School

tartan hs team

Tartan High School’s debate team is only 3 years old, and they made it to the MSHSL State Debate Tournament for the first time in the school’s history this weekend!

Lillie Perez, one of the qualifiers, shares, “This is the best we’ve ever debated, even though there was more pressure and competition than before. A year ago, I didn’t see myself ever becoming a Varsity debater.”

Washburn High School & Prior Lake, not pictured, also competed at the tournament. We want to send them our congratulations for their hard work this season!

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