Results 2012-13


At the National Forensic League National Speech and Debate Championship, Congressional Debate legislator Stephie Maravankin advanced to the semifinal round of the National Senate, and narrowly missed advancing to finals by 0.001 judge rank point. In Policy Debate, the team of Yourui Ruan and Michael Leatherman won five out of 12 ballots.


Wellington Debate continued its phenomenally successful 2012-13 season by qualifying a school-record five students to compete at the 2013 National Forensic League National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, this June. The Red Dawn Debaters will be represented in Birmingham by seniors Michael Reynolds and Nick Thibault, juniors Stephie Maravankin and Yourui Ruan, and sophomore Michael Leatherman. The five qualified at the March 15-16 NFL Panther District National Qualifier Tournament, hosted by Royal Palm Beach High School. Reynolds and Thibault will be competing in Duo Interpretation, where they are performing a 10-minute script cutting from “Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid” by Simon Pegg. Maravankin advanced to the NFL’s National Senate in Congressional Debate, a student version of the federal legislature. Ruan and Leatherman will compete in Policy Debate, where they will deliberate proposed federal policy changes as pertaining to U.S. transportation concerns. Leatherman was also recognized as the first alternate (second overall) in Congressional Debate, where he competed in the tournament’s House of Representatives (which was separate from Maravankin’s Senate chamber competition), while Reynolds advanced to the final round in Humorous Interpretation, placing sixth with his performance of “I Hate You, Kelly Donahue” by Mark Svartz. In Lincoln Douglas Debate (a 1-on-1 event which focuses on philosophy and logic), Ruan placed fifth overall, while in Policy Debate, the team of Greg Foster and Logan Weber placed sixth. Reynolds was also recognized as the NFL Panther District’s “Student of the Year,” an honor voted upon by district officials based on essays contributed from coaches within the district.

The five students represents the largest number to compete at NFL Nationals from Wellington in its 25 years of competitive debate. NFL Nationals is the third, and largest, national high school debate championship tournament of the year. This is the first time Wellington will be represented at all three national championships in a single season. Three students – Maravankin and the Public Forum Debate team of Rachel Ganon and Vinnie Gasso – will compete at the 2013 Tournament of Champions in Lexington, Kentucky, at the end of April, while nine Wellington debaters – the PFD teams of Ganon & Gasso and Leatherman & Alexa Fortuna, the Duo Interp pairs of Reynolds & Thibault and Dylan Race & Savannah Race, and Ruan in Lincoln Douglas Debate – will compete at the National Catholic Forensic League “Grand National” championship tournament in Philadelphia over Memorial Day Weekend.


Wellington will be sending seven students to Philadelphia for the 2013 NCFL Grand National championship tournament over Memorial Day weekend. In Duo Interpretation, Mike Reynolds & Nick Thibault placed first overall at the March 9 qualifier tournament with their presentation of “Nerd Do Well” by Simon Pegg. They will be joined by fellow duo interpers Dylan Race & Savannah Race, who competed with Ken Bradbury’s “Open To Interpretation.” In Lincoln Douglas Debate, Yourui Ruan placed second, while the Public Forum Debate team of Rachel Ganon & Vinnie Gasso also advanced to CatNats. The PFD team of Mike Leatherman & Alexa Fortuna are first alternates. In addition, Wellington earned five new National Forensic League degrees. Both Fortuna and Ganon earned the Degree of Outstanding Distinction (1,000+ points). Ruan earned his Degree of Superior Distinction (750+), Olivia Davy her Degree of Excellence (150+), and Blake Kessler the Degree of Honor (75+). Rachel and Alexa are the 24th and 25th debaters in Wellington history to reach the 1,000 point mark. FYI, Reynolds Is now at 1,322 – second all time in Wellington history!


Wellington has a strong presence at the 2023 Florida Forensic League State Championship in Tampa on March 1-2. In Congressional Debate, Stephie Maravankin placed fifth overall, and became Wellington’s first state championship finalist since 2009, while in Humorous Interpretation, Michael Reynolds placed eighth. Lauren Melton earned her National Forensic League Degree of Honor and her Wellington Debate varsity letter.


Fourteen members of Wellington Speech and Debate were invited to hear Florida Gov. Rick Scott speak at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches luncheon in February 2013: Those in attendance were Sabrina Abesamis, Ali Sina Booeshaghi, Deborah Colimon, Robin Eisenson, Alexa Fortuna, Rachel Ganon, Shae Hammack, Jayleen James, Blake Kessler, Ross Lustgarten, Stephie Maravankin, Michael Reynolds, Yourui Ruan, and Nick Thibault. Gov. Scott was asked by Rachel Ganon about proposed teacher salary increases.


For the second consecutive year, Wellington Debate traveled to the Liberty Bell Classic Debate Invitational on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania and brought home a championship trophy. In Public Forum Debate, the team of Rachel Ganon & Vinnie Gasso went 10-1 and took home first place honors from the UPenn tournament, scoring a 3-2 judges decision against Millburn in the finals. In addition, the team of Ali Sina Booeshaghi & Yourui Ruan advanced to the octofinal round before being knocked out of the tournament. It was Wellington’s third championship at a major national tournament since Paul Gaba became coach in 2002. The previous one was also earned at UPenn in 2012, when Ruan won Novice Lincoln Douglas Debate. Wellington’s PFD teams of Sabrina Abesamis & Juliana Diatezua, Kevin Murphy & Greg Foster, and Sydney Rogalsky & Caitlyn Konopka eash narrowly missed advancing to break rounds as well. By advancing to at least the quarterfinal round, both Ganon & Gasso earned a bid to the 2013 Tournament of Champions national invitational in Kentucky at the end of April.

The team of Ganon & Gasso actually scored a double championship over the weekend of February 15-17 by winning the second annual LBC Public Forum Debate Round Robin Invitational, a pre-tournament competition where 10 teams squared off against each other as a precursor to the full tournament. In the Round Robin, Ganon & Gasso took six of their ten preliminary round ballots, then swept teams from Timber Creek and Union Catholic in two 3-0 decisions to take home the top prize. Ganon & Gasso each earned 147 National Forensic League points during their 18 rounds of debate competition. In addition, Rafael Blecher earned his varsity letter and his NFL Degree of Honor by surpassing the 75-point mark.


Fourteen Wellington Debate students had the opportunity to hear Florida Gov. Rick Scott speak at The Forum Club of the Palm Beaches’ February 11 luncheon, held at the Palm Beach Convention Center. Along with Coach Paul Gaba and Principal Mario Crocetti, representing Wellington were Sabrina Abesamis, Sina Booeshaghi, Deborah Colimon, Robin Eisenson, Alexa Fortuna, Rachel Ganon, Shae Hammack, Jayleen James, Blake Kessler, Ross Lustgarten, Stephie Maravankin, Michael Reynolds, Yourui Ruan, and Nick Thibault.


Another Saturday, another solid debate performance at the February 9 PBCFL, hosted by Palm Beach Lakes High School. (Despite the computer meltdown before Round 1, and all the other silliness that followed.) In PUBLIC FORUM DEBATE, Greg Foster & Kevin Murphy went 4-0 and placed third overall. In LINCOLN DOUGLAS DEBATE, Yourui Ruan went 3-1 and placed second, while Mike Leatherman also went 3-1 and took fifth. In CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE, Ross Lustgarten placed second, Juan Arango sixth, and Robin Eisenson won a gavel as her chamber’s top PO. And in DUO INTERPRETATION, Dylan Race & Savannah Race took fourth. Wellington earned several new NFL degrees as well – Lustgarten earned his Degree of Distinction (250 points), Eisenson her Degree of Honor (75+) and varsity letter, and Nathan Jarrett & Sinclair Sadovic each earned their Degree of Merit (25+). Wellington is now at 57 for the year and 28 overall strength.


Thirteen Red Dawn Debaters from Wellington HS will be in Tampa in a month at the state championships, thanks to an outstanding performance across the board at Saturday’s Macaw Region qualifier in Boca Raton on February 2. Wellington took a trio of first-place finishes at the tournament. In LINCOLN DOUGLAS DEBATE, Yourui Ruan went a perfect 4-0 and took the top spot, while in CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE, Stephie Maravankin earned top honors. The DUO INTERPRETATION team of Dylan Race & Savannah Race also placed first overall. In HUMOROUS INTERPRETATION, Michael Reynolds and Nick Thibault placed second and third, respectively, while the GROUP INTERPRETATION team of Franky Hall, Hayleigh Hansen, Lauren Melton, Alan Radcliff, and Amber Radcliff, also placed second. The PUBLIC FORUM DEBATE team of Alexa Fortuna & Michael Leatherman took third with a 3-1 record. The PFD team of Greg Foster & Vinnie Gasso went 2-2 and are second alternates. This year’s state championship tournament is March 1-2 at Wharton HS in Tampa.


The weekend of January 25-27, senior Michael Reynolds took 6th Place overall in Humorous Interpretation at the Barkley Forum for High School Students at Emory University. The Barkley Forum is one of the most prestigious and competitive debate tournaments in the country; to advance to the final round in any event is akin to being among the best in the nation. This was the first time Wellington advanced to the finals in an interpretation event at Emory since 2004 (Tabitha Armstrong), and Wellington’s first Emory finalist in any event since 2009 (Amanda DeStefano, Congressional Debate). Mike also moved into third place all-time on Wellington’s National Forensic League Speech & Debate Honor Society point list with 1,202, trailing only Amy Levine and Alex Hernicz. In addition, Vinnie Gasso earned his Degree of Special Distinction, surpassing the 500-point plateau.


The first PBCFL of 2013 saw Wellington Debate dominate, taking a pair of first-place finishes at Palm Beeach Gardens on January 19. In Public Forum Debate, Juliana Diatezua & Sabrina Abesamis went 4-0 and placed first overall, while in Lincoln Douglas Debate, Mike Leatherman placed first with a 4-0 records and Logan Weber went 3-1 and placed third. In addition, Wellington scored two honors in Congressional Debate – Robin Eisenson placed fifth, while Ross Lustgarten took sixth. Diatezua earned her NFL Degree of Distinction, and Danny Smith his Degree of Excellence.


Wellington Debate left its mark at the 2013 Sunvitational Debate Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale January 11-13. In Congressional Debate, Stephie Maravankin placed third overall while presiding over the final session. In addition, she placed 11th at the first-ever Sunvitational Round Robin, a pre-Sunvite competitive day featuring 15 of the top legislative debaters in the nation, which took place at the BT&T Center in Sunrise. In Humorous Interpretation, Mike Reynolds advanced to the quarterfinal round, barely missing semis by placing fourth in his break round. He finished the national tournament 17th of 75 entries. And Public Forum Debate saw the team of Sabrina Abesamis & Juliana Diatezua fall in double-octofinals on a 2-1 decision, finishing the tournament ranked 23rd of 96 teams. The team of Alexa Fortuna & Greg Foster finished 34th.


At the Funvitational on December 8, held at West Boca Raton High School, Wellington dominated the awards ceremony. In the novice events, the Duo Interpretation team of Dylan Race and Savannah Race took first place overall, scoring straight first-place ballots from all four judges. In Congressional Debate, Wellington took three of the five “Best Presiding Officer” gavels, Deborah Colimon, Robin Eisenson, and Connor Schwinghammer earning the recognition. Eisenson placed sixth overall in her Congress house, while Shae Hammack was fifth in her Congressional Debate chamber. Among the varsity, the Duo Extemporaneous team of Michael Reynolds and Jake Teitelbaum took first place honors, while in Spontaneous Argumentation, Ross Lustgarten placed third out of 58 entries, and Ryan Kennedy fifth. Olivia Davy ranked eighth in Storytelling, and Eve Tenebaum was eight overall in Radio Announcing. Wellington earned 14 new National Forensic League Speech & Debate Honor Society degrees, bringing its total for the year to 45 and lifting its current overall strength to 216. Earning new degrees were: Degree of Special Distinction (500-point mark): Ryan Kennedy and Sina Booeshaghi; Degree of Honor (75-point mark, also earning the Wellington Debate varsity letter): Caitlyn Konopka, Eve Tenebaum, Dylan Race, and Savannah Race; and Degree of Merit (25-point mark, also earning NFL membership): Corey Collins, Toni Deaver, Calvary Fielden, Antoinette Gray, Hayleigh Hansen, Alan Radcliff, and Connor Schwinghammer.


Wellington Debate closed out the 2012 calendar year with a bang, scoring major successes at both the George Mason University Patriot Games Invitational and the PBCFL Funvitational. At the December 1-2 Patriot Games, held in Fairfax, Virginia, Michael Leatherman broke to double-octofinals in Lincoln Douglas Debate, ranking 19th out of 110 competitors. And in Public Forum Debate, the team of Alexa Fortuna and Vinnie Gasso broke to octofinals, finishing as the 13th-ranked team out of nearly 125 entries, while the team of Sina Booeshaghi and Yourui Ruan were a mere four speaker points from advancing further. Ruan surpassed the National Forensic League Speech & Debate Honor Society’s 500-point plateau, earning his Degree of Special Distinction.


At the November 9-10 Titan Invitational, hosted by Nova High School in Davie, nine Wellington debaters were recognized for their success. In Humorous Interpretation, Michael Reynolds placed third overall (scoring five of a possible six first-place preliminary round ballots) with his performance of “I Hate You, Kelly Donahue,” while in Congressional Debate, Stephie Maravankin placed third out of nearly 160 competitors, debating on topics ranging from offering aid to India to the nation’s drone strike policy. In Public Forum Debate, where the topic centered on whether US foreign policy in the Middle East undermines our national security three Wellington teams advanced past preliminary rounds. Two teams – Rachel Ganon & Vinnie Gasso, and Alexa Fortuna & Greg Foster – reached the semifinal round of competition, while the team of Sabrina Abesamis & Sina Booeshaghi advanced to octofinals. More than 90 teams competed at the tournament. Ganon-Gasso went 8-2 overall, while Fortuna-Foster went 7-3. In Lincoln Douglas Debate, where the topic focused on the philosophy of whether the US should guarantee universal health care to its citizens, Juan Arango advanced to octofinals, making him one of the top 16 at the tournament.

With their placements, Maravankin, Ganon, Gasso, Fortuna, and Foster all earned bids to the Tournament of Champions national championship competition. The TOC is in Lexington, Kentucky, next spring. Wellington has earned 11 new National Forensic League Speech & Debate Honor Society degrees. Both Fortuna and Ganon earned the National Forensic League Degree of Superior Distinction, passing the 750-point mark. Thibault earned his Degree of Distinction, reaching the 250-point plateau. Eight debaters earned the Degree of Merit, and will have their NFL certificates added to the Barbara Dale Lauder McCall Wall of Honor when they arrive from Ripon, Wisconsin: Blecher, Dante Ficarelli, Garber, Francisco Hall, Lauren Melton, Emma Parssi, Powers, and Dylan Race. Wellington now has 30 new degrees and has reached the 200 Club for the 11th consecutive year.


At the November 3 PBCFL tournament hosted by Palm Beach Central, scoring first-place finishes were Stephie Maravankin in Congressional Debate (earning a Best PO gavel as well) and the Public Forum Debate team of Rachel Ganon & Vinnie Gasso (going 4-0). Ross Lustgarten placed third in Congress, while the PFD team of Alexa Fortuna & Greg Foster went 3-1, placing 4th. Nick Thibault finished third in Dramatic Performance, and the Duo Interp pair of Marina Garber & Tori Lynn Powers finished fourth. Rafael Blecher ranked second in Declamation, while Kwadjo Walker was third in Extemporaneous Speaking.


Congressional Debate student Stephie Maravankin advanced to the final round of the New York City Invitational at Bronx High School of Science the weekend of October 19-21.


A famous philosopher once said, “Wellington ROCKED the HOUSE!” This was proven extremely true Sunday, October 13, as Wellington absolutely dominated the PBCFL Lake Worth awards assembly. In Declamation, novice Cameron Harker placed first in each of his four rounds, taking home the overall championship with his presentation of John Parker’s “Do Over,” while in Novice Duo Interpretation, the team of Savannah and Dylan Race took top honors with their performance of “Open to Interpretation.” In Dramatic Performance, Nick Thibault took the first-place trophy, and Michael Reynolds placed fifth. Olivia Davy finished fifth out of 39 competitors in Oral Interpretation, while novice Emma Parssi placed 11th overall. Wellington took four of the top nine spots in Public Forum Debate. The team of Juliana Diatezua and Jayleen James went 4-0 and placed second; Alexa Fortuna and Logan Weber went 3-1 and finished fourth; Kevin Murphy and Vinnie Gasso went 3-1 and placed fifth; and Caitlyn Konopka and Victoria Perih went 3-1, placing ninth. Two Wolverines went 3-1 in Lincoln Douglas Debate, with Greg Foster placing fifth and Michael Leatherman seventh. In Congressional Debate, Stephie Maravankin placed second overall in Chamber F, and was also recognized as the chamber’s top presiding officer. Novice Jaclyn Weber took sixth in Chamber B, and novice Deborah Colimon finished seventh in Chamber E. Other legislators who received at least one judge rank during the tournament were Ross Lustgarten, Connor Schwinghammer, Johnathan Thompson, Mikael Salatino, and Dante Ficarelli.

Wellington earned seven new or additional National Forensic League Speech & Debate Honor Society degrees. Michael Reynolds became the 23rd Wellington Debate member to surpass the 1,000 point mark, earning his Degree of Outstanding Distinction, and currently ranks 20th in the program’s illustrious history. Michael Leatherman eclipsed the 500-point mark, earning his Degree of Special Distinction. Jon DeLaura earned his Degree of Excellence in reaching the 150-point plateau. And four novice debaters earned their NFL Degree of Merit: Deborah Colimon, Robin Eisenson, Cameron Harker, and Savannah Race.


At the Flying L Invitational at Ft. Lauderdale High School Saturday, September 29, Leatherman earned the first place trophy in Lincoln Douglas Debate with a perfect 4-0 record, earning 117.3 of a possible 120 speaker points. In Public Forum Debate, two of Wellington’s teams went 3-1. Alexa Fortuna and Logan Weber went 3-1 and placed 11th out of more than 50 teams overall, while the team of Greg Foster and Vinnie Gasso went 3-1 and ranked 12th overall. In addition, the team of Olivia Davy and Jayleen James went 2-2 and placed 15th overall. In her first-ever competition in Original Oratory, Madison Dalton placed eighth overall, while Reynolds placed 11th in Dramatic Performance out of more than 40 competitors. Five Wellington debaters earned advanced NFL degrees at the Flying L Invitational. Juan Arango, Foster, Gasso and Weber all surpassed the 250-point mark, earning NFL “Degree of Distinction” recognition, while Davy earned her Degree of Honor by surpassing the 75-point plateau. Davy also earned her Wellington Debate varsity letter, which she will receive at the team’s spring banquet.


At the Yale Invitational in New Haven, Connecticut (September 19-21), Stephie Maravankin ranked first in her preliminary Congressional Debate chamber, advancing to the tournament’s semifinal round and securing a Tournament of Champions bid. She also earned the National Forensic League Speech and Debate Honor Society’s “Degree of Superior Distinction” by reaching the 750-point mark. She ranks second among current debaters in NFL points. In addition, Yourui Ruan went 4-2 in JV Lincoln Douglas Debate competition, advancing to the double-octofinal round. He ended preliminary rounds as the 15th seed and the 4th-best speaker. Coach Gaba salutes the entire Yale Invitational squad – Maravankin, Ruan, Michael Reynolds, Michael Leatherman, Kwadjo Walker, and Logan Weber, for their professionalism, given the unique medical situation that impacted the weekend. Jupiter Coach Kristie Taylor was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning with a severe case of dehydration, bronchitis and pneumonia, and Coach Gaba became the Jupiter team’s official district representative for the rest of the weekend, splitting his time between the two teams’ hotels and ensuring all of the students from both schools were taken care of. Coach Gaba thanks Veronica Maravankin for helping him over the weekend as both a chaperone and a judge.


Wellington Debate had a solid, spectacular weekend of competition at both the PBCFL Congressional hosted by Suncoast HS and the Crestian Invitational at the Pine Crest School of Boca Raton & Ft. Lauderdale September 14-16. At the Congressional, nine debaters earned accolades. Among the novice debaters, competing for the first time in their high school career, Rafael Blecher placed second overall in the Alachua County chamber, while Carl Kessler was third in the DeSoto County chamber. Wellington also had two fifth-place finishers, Hayleigh Hansen (Brevard County) and Shae Hammack (Jefferson County), and a sixth-place finish (Jaclyn Weber, Gadsden County). On the varsity level, Juliana Diatezua ranked third in the Dunedin senate, Juan Arango placed fifth in the Bal Harbour senate, and both Ross Lustgarten and Michael Leatherman were awarded gavels as the best presiding officers in their chambers. In addition, 11 students received at least one judge rank during the day in recognition of their public speaking performance in their respective congressional chambers: Dante Ficarelli, Maryann Villeda, Alan Radcliff, Armando Enamorado, Harrison Paul, Jessica Sorensen, Robin Eisenson, Sinclair Sadovic, Kwadjo Walker, Greg Foster, and Olivia Davy

Meanwhile, at the Crestian Invitational, the Public Forum Debate team of Vinnie Gasso and Kevin Murphy went 4-2 in preliminary rounds, then won their double-octafinal, octafinal and quarterfinal rounds before being defeated in the semifinal round of competition. Gasso and Murphy finished third out of nearly 90 teams.


The Wellington Debate 2012-13 Championship Season kicked off Saturday, September 8, with a successful competition at the 3rd Annual Bulldog Invitational at G. Holmes Braddock High School in Miami. In Lincoln Douglas Debate, sophomore Michael Leatherman went 4-1 and finished 4th overall (out of 30 LD competitors). His only loss was a 28.5-28 loss to tournament winner Amanda Robinson of Atlantic in Round 5. While not taking home hardware, sophomore Juan Arango placed eighth overall and sophomore Greg Foster placed 10th. Wellington had three of the top seven overall speakers at the tournament: Arango (4th), Leatherman (6th) and Foster (7th). In Public Forum Debate, the team of juniors Alexa Fortuna and Sydney Rogalsky went 4-1 and placed seventh out of 40 teams. Sophomore Blake Kessler received a trophy for his sixth-place finish in Oral Interpretation, and sophomore Kwadjo Walker was recognized for his role as Congressional Debate Chamber B presiding officer.