UIL State Congress

Kade Brackin, Fine Arts Editor

It’s been a long time since the West Hardin Congress tournament, and on Jan. 15, the State competition was held and aired on Fox Sports Southwest. 

The rankings in 2A were as follows:

  • Mia Hweidi -1st place
  • Megan Canfield -2nd place
  • Benjamin Havens -3rd place
  • Maggie Krahl -4th place
  • Luke Thane -5th place and outstanding P.O.
  • Sydney Hardin -6th place

Christopher Johnson from West Hardin also competed and placed 9th overall out of 54 state-caliber competitors from 2A. Out of the top six, Hweidi, Canfield, and Thane were in Johnson’s prelimination chamber. This means that Johnson had to really fight to even make it to finals.

“We worked through at least five bills per session,” Johnson said.

To debate at the state level takes lots of hard work. 

“I actually had research prepared for every bill,” Johnson said. 

It requires constant self-analysis.

“I need to be more controlling in the round,” Johnson said. “(That was) not good enough.”

It also helps to have experience.

“With the speech team, I’ve been to Austin 4 times,” Johnson said.

Behind every good debater, however, there is a good coach who is supportive and puts their students first.

“(My favorite part of the trip was) probably finding out that Christopher had made it to finals and was going to be able to debate at the state capitol,” Speech and Debate Coach Sandra Peek said.

A good coach also sets high expectations for their students, but are also understanding and want the best for their student in the end.

“I think Christopher could have done better, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow things in Congress, politically, to happen in the way you would like them to,” Peek said. “The way the game is designed is to force kids to be political, and to block each other, and to work together and form coalitions.”

Johnson, however, has two coaches.

“We’re super proud of him,” Amanda Atkinson said. “We always want to work hard and improve and do better every year. Next year he’ll be a senior and I would love to see him medal next year. We have very high standards for our kids and they set them for themselves. Of course, he has the capacity to do better. He had a chance to medal this year. He placed ninth which is just three places from medaling, so he was super close.”

With Johnson’s drive and great coaches, there is only one reason why Johnson did not place: the competition.

“Every year (the competition) has been improving… …every year it’s been getting better and better as more students are participating,” Atkinson said.

Regardless, his coaches believe that he can medal next year.

“I think next year he’ll be in the running to get a medal again,” Atkinson said.