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2019 Texas Great Debate winners reflect on their journeys

Winners of the Cross Examination competition at the 2019 Texas Great Debate
Posted: June 11, 2019 at 5:17 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The 2019 Texas Great Debate came to a close Saturday, with Tip of Texas repeating as team champions, but with a number of teams able to declare victories — including Austin, which had a number of top finishers reaching the All-State level; El Paso, which won two categories; the Rio Grande Valley, which won in one category, and San Antonio, which finished in second place overall for its first time ever.

For Extemporaneous Speaking winner Ricardo Martinez, from Cathedral High School in El Paso, getting to finals provided him an opportunity he cherished. “I went in with the mentality, not of winning, but being able to have the opportunity just to talk to so many kids just for five minutes. I think that’s really something special and just to have that dialogue between not even opponents, but just two people in a conversation. You know, that’s that’s truly really special. That’s that’s what NHI is all about.”

Susana Moreno from El Paso’s Coronado High School, one of the Cross Examination winners, noted, “I was pretty nervous. Actually, I didn’t eat all day because I was so nervous. I was so proud when I got up there and conquered, my fear of public speaking because it’s always been a fear of mine.” She added that she was proud of the performance of her Cross-X partner, Gael Bunsow of Cathedral High School, as well as a team of El Paso students she described as family.

Tip of Texas students certainly considered themselves to be family in their successful run to the title. “It feels pretty great,” said Lia Cavazos from South Texas Academy for Medical Professions in San Benito, of Tip’s victory. “I definitely didn’t think that we were going to make it, and we broke the nine-year cycle. It’s the first time that our region has won two years consecutively. It has been traveling from RGV to Tip for the last nine years. And this is the first time that Tip has won two consecutive years.”

Cavazos added, about her personal journey in the program, “I think my vocabulary has grown. I think my perspective of the way that I see things, when I watch the news, when I’m with my friends, what I speak with with my friends [has changed] . . . Being a part of NHI definitely is a big part of my life now.”

Mariajose Morales from Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, half of the second-place Mock Trial team, said, “The Tip of Texas really eats, sleeps, and breathes NHI. So winning the Silver Cup, especially since we won it last year, just feels so empowering and motivating. Because we all know that we gave it our all, like we all know that we strive to be the best that we possibly could be and winning, it just shows we were recognized for it. And it just it feels very empowering to to be able to say we did win it, because we tried so hard, and we know that we tried our best.”

She added, “There wasn’t a moment in which we knew we won it. We were all completely uncertain of the outcome of this tournament. And we just, it was a very, it was very suspenseful couple of minutes when they were announcing it, and winning just felt like we were recognized for all of our dedication, and we genuinely felt very proud and deserving of the award because of how dedicated we were to this organization.”

Winners in each category include:

Cross Examination

1st Place: Susana Moreno (Coronado High School) & Gael Bunsow (Cathedral High School), El Paso

2nd Place: Max Maidl (Cathedral High School) & Max Intebi (El Paso High School), El Paso

All-State Leader: Marcelo Masso (Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville), Tip of Texas

All-State Member: Isabella Castro (St. Andrew’s Episcopal), Austin


1st Place: Geevana Uribe (Science Academy of South Texas, McAllen), RGV

2nd Place: Alexa Mendoza (McAllen Memorial High School), RGV

All-State: Sofia Ramirez (Vandegrift High School), Austin

Extemporaneous Speaking

1st Place: Ricardo Martinez (Cathedral High School), El Paso

2nd Place: Sofia Homes (South Texas Academy for Medical Professions, San Benito), RGV

All-State: Jaxon Gonzales (LASA), Austin

Mock Trial

1st Place: Olivia Gonzalez (IB at Lamar Academy, McAllen) & Witness Hailey Henderson (McAllen Memorial High School), RGV

2nd Place: Mariajose Morales (Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville) & Alicia Ordonez (Saint Joseph Academy, Brownsville), Tip of Texas

All-State Attorney: Michael Deangelo Garcia (BETA, McAllen), RGV

All-State Witness: Kelly Liu (Westwood High School), Austin

Athenaeum Showcase

1st Place: Alejandra Castro (Hillcrest High School), Dallas

2nd Place: Anaya Zachery (TMI Episcopal), San Antonio

3rd Place: Troy Jones (Veterans Memorial High School), Corpus Christi

This program was made possible in part by State Farm and Winston & Strawn.

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