Results 2014-15


I. Could. Not. Be. Prouder!

For the first time in my debate coaching career, I had students debating in rounds on Day 4 of the NSDA National Championship. Both Greg Foster and Caramen McDaniel were in advanced rounds of Extemporaneous Debate on the fourth day of the tournament.

Greg Foster and Mike Leatherman went 10-2 in Public Forum Debate prelim rounds, the best record Wellington debaters have had in NSDA prelims, and advanced to Round 8.

Kwadjo Walker continued to display total professionalism, something that has been on exhibit for four years. He finished seventh in his prelim Senate, missing out on advancing to semis by four speaker ranks. Like his brother before him, his debate career ends in Texas.

Caramen McDaniel and Connor Yeackley gained a wealth of experience on the national circuit, and will bring that knowledge base back to the team to help Wellington Debate remain strong in the debate forum.

I believe Mike will have 2,154 NSDA honor points on record after the results are audited, and Greg will have 2,082. {This would make them 1st and 2nd all-time in Wellington history.} Kwadjo will have around 1,160 – I don’t know Congress speech results yet, I’m just guestimating based on the number of speeches he gave and his presiding over a session. {This would rank him 12th all time in Wellington history.} I believe Caramen will have 880 and Connor 651. {Sidebar: these are estimates!}

It was, as usual, wonderful to see and be with so many amazing students and coaches from across the nation, and to hang out with those from Palm Beach County (in particular Traci Lowe, Melissa Gifford, Christina Calaluca). It was also wonderful to see WHS ’03 debater Lauren Medoff for lunch!


So very proud of the @RedDawnDebaters who represented Wellington High School at the 2015 NCFL Grand National debate championship tournament in Ft. Lauderdale. Greg Foster and Michael Leatherman were quarterfinalists in Public Forum Debate, finishing FIFTH PLACE OVERALL with a 7-1 record out of 224 entries, and Victor Sanchez was a semifinalist in Congressional Debate. And Savannah Race, while not advancing, was at her third consecutive CatNats. A shout out to SueAnn McDaniel, who was amazing in the ballot stuffing department (helping Coach Paul Gaba and Suncoast HS Coach Traci Lowe), along with six Wellington volunteers: Caramen McDaniel, Connor Yeackley, Chris Slaughter, Julie Cesta, Sara Casey, and Brandon Schloss – we rocked it! Many thanks to Susan Solove for volunteering to help us by representing Wellington in the judge pool.


Four @RedDawnDebaters are advancing to the 2015 NCFL “CatNats” Grand National Debate Championship Tournament Memorial Day weekend on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale! Representing Wolverine Nation are Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman in Public Forum Debate (top seed, 5-0 record), Victor Sanchez in Congressional Debate (2nd place in Super Session), and Savannah Race in Dramatic Performance! Kwadjo Walker and Pallavi Taneja both advanced to the finals in Congressional Debate. First alternate in Duo Interpretation is Antoinette Gray & Amaris Fairchild. Second alternates are Mya Smith in Extemporaneous Speaking and Eileen Wheelen in Dramatic Performance. Earning new National Speech & Debate Association degrees were Victor Sanchez (Degree of Superior Distinction, 750+ honor points) and Connor Yeackley (Degree of Special Distinction, 500+ honor points).


The Wellington Boys Basketball team was not the only Wolverine pack to experience success the last weekend of February. Wellington Debate’s Public Forum Debate team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman placed third overall at the Florida Forensic League state championship at Orlando’s Timber Creek High School. The team of Fosterman lost in semifinals on a 2-1 ballot to eventual state runner-up Nova High School. And in Congressional Debate, the @RedDawnDebaters’ Victor Sanchez advanced to the final round, placing 11th overall.


After a 13-hour-day which ran about as smoothly as a tournament can when faced with a rapidly diminishing judge pool, WE HAVE RESULTS! Before I get to them … a HUGE shout-out to the hard workers who assisted in making this tournament a success. MANY THANKS to Kristie Taylor and Daryl Hall for running extemp prep, Angie Weber for ballot check-in, Mierka Drucker for judge call, and Traci Lowe for assisting with tabulation. I take great pride in knowing we have a solid group of professionals who can run excellent debate tournaments. AN EQUALLY HUGE SHOUT-OUT TO THE PARENTS AND STUDENTS WHO VOLUNTEERED AND/OR JUDGED FOR WELLINGTON TODAY AND HELPED MAKE THE TOURNEY A SUCCESS! They include Robyn Gasso, Sue Ann McDaniel, Amy Yeackley, Michael Jaeger, Dominique Kruisland, Sharon Radcliff, Paula Deaver, Scott Epstein, Alexa Fortuna, David Solove, Susan Solove, Kevin Solove, and anyone I may have missed. (I was in tab for most of the day; if you were on campus and I didn’t mention you here, it’s because either I never saw you or I’m so exhausted I can’t remember right now – my humble apologies!)

WELLINGTON WILL BE REPRESENTED BY FIVE STUDENTS IN DALLAS AT NSDA NATIONALS IN JUNE: Kwadjo Walker – Congressional Debate (Senate); Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman – Public Forum Debate (perfect 6-0 record); and Caramen McDaniel & Connor Yeackley – Public Forum Debate Additionally, Kwadjo is the Florida Oceanfront District’s Graduating Senior of the Year. Victor Sanchez is 1st Alternate in US Extemporaneous Speaking. Wellington is also recipient of the Florida Oceanfront Leading Chapter Award.


The Public Forum Debate team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman won the 2015 LBC Public Forum Debate Round Robin – the second time in three years Wellington has captured the RR championship. It also gave Wellington four LBC championships in four years. Foster & Leatherman advanced to double-octafinals of the regular tournament as the ninth seed before being eliminated. (Eight of the top nine seeds, including the top six, were all knocked out of competition in double-octafinals.) Victor Sanchez advanced to semifinals in Congressional Debate.


Kwadjo Walker will be the third-ever member of Wellington Debate to represent Wolverine Nation and the @RedDawnDebaters in Congressional Debate at the National Speech & Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament. Kwadjo qualified for the Dallas tournament through a strong performance Saturday, February 7, at the Florida Oceanfront NSDA District Congress Qualifier at West Boca High School. Also earning accolades was the Public Forum Debate team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman, who went 4-0 and placed first overall at the PBCFL tournament at West Boca.


Eleven members of the Wellington @RedDawnDebaters will be representing Wolverine Nation at the 2015 Florida Forensic League state championship in Orlando at the end of February. Qualifying at the FFL Macaw at Park Vista HS on Saturday, January 31, were: the Public Forum Debate team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman; the Duo Interpretation team of Amaris Fairchild & Eileen Wheelen; the Group Interpretation team of Antoinette Gray, David Gold, Gillian Kruisland, Roland Kupoluyi, Alan Radcliff, and Gabby Vivas; and Congressional Debate legislator Victor Sanchez. BONUS: Wellington added SEVEN new National Speech & Debate Association honor degrees – Sanchez (Special Distinction), Chris Slaughter (Excellence), Wheelen (Excellence), Fairchild (Honor), Vivas (Honor), John Jaeger (Merit), and Bennett Aikey (Merit)!


The Public Forum Debate team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman advanced to double-octafinals as the 13th seed before dropping to Cypress Bay.


In the first tournament hosted by Olympic Heights High School since Coach Gaba entered the world of debate in 2000, six Wellington debaters earned accolades and four earned new or advanced National Speech & Debate Association degrees. In Dramatic Performance, Savannah Race placed second overall. In Novice Oral Interp, Tinquisha Shaw placed fifth. The Public Forum Debate team of Caramen McDaniel & Connor Yeackley finished fourth (as the highest-ranking one-loss team in the tournament). In Congressional Debate, Kwadjo Walker placed sixth in his chamber, and both Walker and Robin Eisenson earned Chamber’s Choice gavels. In addition, first-year debaters Bennett Aikey, Karina Frandjian and Eileen Wheelen earned at least one judge rank. Earning NSDA degrees were: Savannah race (Degree of Special Distinction, 500+ honor points); Julie Cesta (Degree of Merit, 25+ NSDA honor points); Avery Higgins (Degree of Merit); and Tinquisha Shaw (Degree of Merit).


At the 2015 Sunvitational in Ft. Lauderdale, Kwadjo Walker represented Wellington Debate in a national final varsity Congressional Debate round for the first time, and received accolades from multiple judges and observers for his professionalism. Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman advanced to the double octafinal round of Public Forum Debate, with Foster being recognized as 8th-best overall speaker in preliminary rounds. Foster & Leatherman also competed in the prestigious Sunvitational PFD Round Robin Debate on Friday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Rounds took place in stadium suites. The team narrowly missed advancing to the championship round while facing some of the best and most talented PFD teams in the nation.

NEW NATIONAL SPEECH & DEBATE ASSOCIATION DEGREES AND PLATEAUS: Leatherman improved on his all-time Wellington Debate NSDA honor point record; he now has 1,634. Foster surpassed the 1,500-honor-point “Degree of Premier Distinction” level – the fifth to do so in Wellington history. He now has 1,559, which is second-most all-time.
Caramen McDaniel eased past the 500-point plateau and earned the NSDA Degree of Special Distinction. Pallavi Taneja earned her Degree of Excellence by surpassing the 150-point mark. Karina Frandjian achieved her Degree of Honor and will receive her varsity letter at the debate banquet this spring. Coach Gaba is extremely proud of the 14 #‎RedDawnDebaters who competed at USchool!


The Wellington High School #RedDawnDebaters continued their “December to Remember 2014” with a solid showing at the PBCFL Funvitational hosted by Palm Beach Central High School Saturday, December 13.

In Spontaneous Argumentation Debate, Michael Leatherman placed first overall with a perfect 4-0 record and an equally perfect (and rare) perfect 120 speaker points. Victor Sanchez went 4-0 and placed third in SpAr.

In Congressional Debate, five Wolverine debaters received recognition. Eileen Wheelen placed third and earned a Chamber’s Choice Presiding Officer gavel. Sara Casey placed fourth, Cayla Epstein and Brandon Schloss each took fifth, and Killian Beres-Peterson placed sixth in their respective chambers.

In Extemporaneous Duo, the team of Gabby Baillergeau and Brianna Fortuna placed fifth.

Wellington earned 11 new National Speech & Debate Association degrees, raising its total to 44 for the year and 216 overall. Casey Mangini earned her NSDA Degree of Distinction. Basil Burke earned his degrees of merit, honor and excellence. Earning the Degree of Honor were Brianna Fortuna and Chris Slaughter. And earning their Degree of Merit were Jake Anders, Killian Beres-Peterson, Rebecca Kokot, Jacob Pincus, and Samantha Siskind.

Finally, Michael Leatherman became the all-time NSDA honor points leader in Wellington Debate history, surpassing Amy Levine’s 1,542. Leatherman now has 1,550 total honor points.


At GMU December 4-8, the Public Forum Debate team of Greg Foster and Mason Graham advanced to double-octafinals, and Victor Sanchez broke to the semifinal round of Congressional Debate. Connor Yeackley earned his National Speech & Debate association Degree of Distinction. Overall, it was a pretty solid experience. Special thanks to Bill Wheelen for helping as a chaperone/driver/judge, and making the weekend even more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.


Wellington RULED at the Falcon Invitational November 22 – FIRST PLACE Michael Leatherman in Lincoln Douglas Debate, and FOURTH PLACE Greg Foster & Victor Sanchez in Public Forum Debate! #RedDawnDebaters ROCK THE HAUS!


Wellington Debate hosted the PBCFL tournament Saturday, November 15. Roughly 450 students from more than 20 area schools converged on the campus. The entire Wellington varsity was on hand either competing, judging, or volunteering, along with about 15-20 debate parents. Coach Gaba cannot express how deeply moved he is by the amazing dedication, professionalism and effort the #‎RedDawnDebaters put forth to operate a virtually flawless tournament. He was continually amazed by what my debate families achieve for our program, and can never repay the immense debt he owes them for all they do on a regular basis. Special thanks to (in no particular order) Robyn Powell Gasso, Sue Ann McDaniel, Paula Deaver, Sharon Radcliff, Bill Wheelen, Tina Slaughter, Karen Rutkowski Mangini, Michelle DeLaura, Caroline Laseter Melton, Michael and Janell Leatherman, Dominique Kruisland, William Pincus, Gary Schloss, Thomas & Melissa Davison Race, Dylan Race, and Amy Yeackley.

In Dramatic Performance, Savannah Race picket fenced her rounds and earned 398 of a possible 400 speaker points en route to a first-place trophy at the November 2014 PBCFL hosted by Wellington!

In Public Forum Debate, the team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman went 4-0 and took top honors, while the team of Caramen McDaniel & Connor Yeackley went 3-1 and placed sixth. The PFD team of Michael Gasso & Mason Graham also went 3-1 and took ninth.

In Congressional Debate, Victor Sanchez placed second and earned a Chamber’s Choice Presiding Officer gavel. Six other legislators earned judge recognition: Deborah Colimon, Karina Frandjian, Renard Gowie, Alex Kaiser, Chris Slaughter, and Eileen Wheelen.

Earning National Speech & Debate Association degrees were 15 – FIFTEEN! – debaters: Maria Alvarez (Honor), Nevert Barsoum (Merit), Deborah Colimon (Distinction), Nancy Foti (honor), David Gold (Excellence), Renard Gowie (Merit), Mason Graham (Distinction), Alex Kaiser (Excellence), Lauren Melton (Distinction), Agustin Puga (Honor), Victor Sanchez (Distinction), Brandon Schloss (Merit), Connor Schwinghammer (Distinction), Mary Ann Shahid (Merit), and Eileen Wheelen (Honor).


SO DAMN PROUD! Wellington PFD had a great run at the 2014 Titan Invitational, November 7-8, in Ft. Lauderdale. The Public Forum Team of Greg Foster & Victor Sanchez went 8-1, losing in quarterfinals. It was Victor’s first PFD tournament. Michael Gasso earned his NSDA Degree of Excellence. Both Sanchez and Mason Graham are each within five points of their NSDA Degree of Distinction. Foster hit 1,375 NSDA points, passing Alexa Fortuna ’14 into sixth all-time in Wellington Debate history.


At the 2014 Florida Blue Key Invitational in Gainesville over Halloween weekend, the Public Forum Team of Foster & Michael Leatherman advanced to octafinalists; Foster was also recognized as 7th-best speaker out of nearly 250 debaters. Leatherman hit 1,467 NSDA points, passing Vinnie Gasso ’14 into fourth all-time in Wellington Debate history. #RedDawnDebaters!


The #RedDawnDebaters of Wellington High School had a day of success and being the bridesmaid at the October PBCFL hosted by Seminole Ridge High School. Taking home honors were Victor Sanchez and Connor Schwinghammer in Congressional Debate, and Casey Mangini in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Sanchez placed 3rd in his chamber, while Schwinghammer was fourth in his, and both took home Chambers Choice Presiding Officer gavels, while Mangini placed sixth in LD.

Wellington placed seventh in six different events: Gillian Kruisland & Caramen McDaniel in Public Forum Debate (with a 3-1 record); Kwadjo Walker in Extemporaneous Speaking; and Mason Graham, Pallavi Taneja, Karina Frandjian and Chris Slaughter in Congressional Debate. Additionally, David Gold, Killian Beres-Peterson, and Renard Gowie earned judge ranks in their respective chambers.

Wellington added four more National Speech & Debate Association degrees. Sanchez earned his Degree of Excellence, while Sara Casey, Borina Jean and Tyreke Jean-Baptiste each earned their Degree of Merit.


Wellington had two Public Forum Debate teams advance past preliminary rounds at the Crestian Tradition, hosted by Cypress Bay High School October 11-12. At Cypress Bay, the PFD team of Greg Foster & Michael Leatherman advanced to octafinals, and were ranked seventh overall, while the team of McDaniel & Connor Yeackley broke to double-octafinals. Two debaters earned their NSDA Degree of Merit: Amaris Fairchild & Frandjian.


Wellington Debate ROCKED THE HAUS at Suncoast during the initial PBCFL tournament of the 2014-15 competition year – Saturday, September 27. Eleven #reddawndebaters took home 13 pieces of hardware, 25 earned some form of judge recognition, and three first-year debaters earned membership in the National Speech & Debate Association’s National Forensic League Honor Society.

FIRST PLACE: Caramen McDaniel

SECOND PLACE: Eileen Wheelen

THIRD PLACE: Victor Sanchez and Taneja Pallavi

FIFTH PLACE: Connor Schwinghammer, Kwadjo Walker, and Renard Gowie

SIXTH PLACE: Chris Slaughter

CHAMBERS CHOICE PRESIDING OFFICER: Deborah Colimon, Robin Eisenson, Kwadjo Walker (two times), and Connor Yeackley

ALSO EARNING AT LEAST ONE JUDGE RANK: Jake Anders, Wyatt Boswell, Sara Casey, Amaris Fairchild, Mackenzie Fleming, Karina Frandjian, Jannard Jackson, Rebecca Kokot, Jacob Pincus, Mitchell Popovic, Brandon Schloss, Mary Ann Shahid, Samantha Siskind, and Gabby Vivas

NEW NSDA NFL HONOR SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP: Jannard Jackson, Chris Slaughter, and Eileen Wheelen

Eileen Wheelen gave EIGHT speeches, including FIVE in the second session. Coach Gaba believes these are Wellington Debate records for the PBCFL Congressional. Jannard Jackson gave SIX speeches, which Coach Gaba believes is the second-most for a Wellington Debate student at the PBCFL Congressional.


Wellington had two students attend the 2014 Yale Invitational – both in Congressional Debate – and both achieved success in New Haven, Connecticut, September 20-21. Michael Leatherman advanced to the final round of Congressional Debate, placing 13th overall, while Kwadjo Walker represented Wellington in the semifinal round. Walker earned his NSDA NFL Degree of Superior Distinction, surpassing the 750-point level.


Wellington opened the 2014-15 tournament season in Miami on September 13, where Congressional Debate legislators Michael Leatherman and Victor Sanchez both placed in their respective chambers. Wellington brought four novice debaters to their first tournament of their career, with all presenting “clash” speeches as part of their indoctrination into debate.