Sophomores Gehant And Tozer Take The Lead For Taft’s Debate Team

Mia Naples, Reporter

Taft sophomores Hugo Gehant and Phoebe Tozer continue to do well on the debate circuit, defeating Niles West and Lane twice at the Regional Circuit Conference tournament. 

Their two losses were razor-close decisions against Whitney Young and Northside College Prep. The Regional Circuit Conference includes high schools within the Chicago area and some high schools from outside of Chicago or state. 

“We are incredibly proud of the work that Phoebe and Hugo did independently during winter break to prepare themselves for this level of competition. We are also extremely proud of our student captain, Layan Nazzal, who worked with them and helped them to understand the arguments and choose winning strategies,” said debate coach Cohen via email.

In preparation for the regional conference, Gehant and Tozer spent time learning about open evidence and how to use it. They learned how to run a Kritic and how to frame their work. 

“We beat Lane Twice in a row, both times on a ‘Kritic’ which has traditionally been the argument Lane has been known for. You should’ve seen their face when the judge announced they lost to Taft-priceless,” said Tozer via email. 

The topic they debated about was CJR (Criminal Justice Reform). Most teams ran the case about death penalty, which made arguing against difficult for the affirmative side. They felt that people wouldn’t be as prepared for other affirmatives with the topic death penalty, so they chose to use quality immunity when they were affirmatives. The affirmative side’s role is to defend a plan under the year’s resolution and how the world will be better if the plan is passed. The negative side’s job is to argue against passing the plan, saying how it won’t accomplish anything or that passing the plan of the affirmative will make the problem worse.

Despite being in the tournament for 13 hours, Gehant and Tozer found enjoyment within the experience and felt they benefited from it. 

“I honestly don’t look at this as an achievement, but more as a learning experience that was very helpful to us both. It was very fun and really helped to calm me down about future tournaments, since the blue conference was for a while, allowing me some time to adjust. Right now, I am looking forward to the Conference tournament in February, and preparing for that and the City tournament,” said Gehant via email. 

Gehant and Tozer are now preparing for their February Conference tournament and a City tournament.