The Mount Pleasant High School Cross-Examination debate team of Connelly Cowan and Taryn Thurman competed in the 5A State CX Debate tournament on March 22-23. The tournament was held on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. Cowan and Thurman, nicknamed TarCon by their coach, claimed the District Championship in January, earning them the right to compete at State.
On day one, the field began with 62 teams entered from across the state of Texas. Mount Pleasant CT debated teams from Pflugerville Connally, El Paso, Kaufman, and El Paso Eastwood. That evening, the teams gathered in the auditorium of the University Teaching Center to learn if they had advanced to the second day. Scores are determined by a combination of wins and losses as well as the speaker points given to each team member.
The first awards given are to the top six speakers in each division. Mount Pleasant High School sophomore, Taryn Thurman, was awarded the Golden Gavel for having the highest speaker points among all 124 contestants in 5A. She is the first MPHS student to ever receive this prestigious award.
After speaker awards are presented, the sixteen advancing teams in each division are announced in alphabetical order. Mount Pleasant CT learned that not only had the advanced to the top sixteen, they were 4-0 and going into day 2 as the #1 seed, due to the 4 wins and high speaker points from both team members.
Day 2 started with Octofinals where MPHS defeated Tuloso Midway on a 3-0 decision. Quarterfinals saw Mount Pleasant eliminate Pflugerville High School on a 2-1 decision, advancing them to the final four. MPHS was finally defeated on a 2-1 decision in the semifinal round by Lovejoy, the eventual state champions. They earned bronze medals and a 3rd place State ranking for the 2018-19 school year. They are the first MPHS CX team to rank in the top 3 in school history. More remarkably, they are a freshman and a sophomore.
“This year has been a blast coaching these two girls,” said MPHS Debate Coach, Cody Morris. “As a coach I have been so blessed to have a good group of hard-working students. I have been inspired and amazed by these two. These girls rose to each occasion, staring powerhouse programs in the face with no fear. It is with great pride that we bring home the Bronze medal. It is hard to convey to the community the obstacles these girls have had to overcome. As a freshman and a sophomore, they dominated in an event against schools with unlimited resources and multiple coaches. They overcame so much with their hard work and dedication.”
Morris continued, “Taryn is the epitome of a team player. Her selfless attitude and willingness to do whatever was asked of her is a major reason for their team’s success. I was brought to tears to see all that hard work get rewarded with the Golden Gavel, meaning that she is the best speaker in the entire state as it pertains to Policy Debate. And Connelly is the perfect complement to Taryn. Connelly has been extremely dedicated since coming to afterschool practice during her 6th grade year. She is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever met. These two girls never shied away from challenges this year, asking to go to tougher tournaments, constantly wanting to get better. I am so proud and excited to get to coach these girls for 2 more years.”
Thurman is the daughter of Tris and Stephanie Thurman. Cowan is the daughter of Collin and Kelly Cowan.