The Dodge City High School debate team was able to open its season on a high note by claiming the sweepstakes title at the Tournament of Champions held annually at Great Bend High School Saturday.

The win marks the third tournament win in 5 years at the Great Bend tournament.

The Demon Debaters proved to be the class of the 12-school field by registering a three-team record of 13-2.

Of the six DCHS entries that posted winning records, five earned medals.

"We were very excited to be able to win this tournament again this year," said debate Coach Steve Ray. "We’ve won it twice and finished second twice behind Sterling, so we have had quite a bit of success here.

"They, too, have won it twice and finished second to us twice so this was kind of like a rubber match in what has become a pretty good rivalry."

Sterling finished second in the tournament and were the defending champions.

Novices of Hever Arjon and Marcos Hernandez led the way for the Dodge City squad going unbeaten at 5-0 finishing first in their division.

Deymi Martinez and Alejandro Gorostiza as well as Bryan Nguyen and Alondra Valle were two first-year teams that finished with 3-2 marks placing sixth and eighth respectively, according to Ray.

In the varsity division, Josh Habiger and Viridiana Arias led the way recording a 4-1 finishing second.

In each of his five rounds on the day, Habiger was deemed the top speaker.

The unbeaten champions from Garden City was the only blemish on Habiger and Arias's record.

The team of Cisco Soto and Alex Rangel were not far behind posting a 4-1 mark, with their only loss coming at the hands of the Garden City team.

Soto and Rangel finished fourth with the team of Roxana Arjon and Christian Garcia finishing just outside of medal consideration posting a 3-2 mark.

"We set winning this tournament as a goal every year because it is the first meet of the year," Ray said. "That means that for 1 week, at least, we can say we are the only team in Kansas with a tourney championship.

"It is difficult to get ready for a tournament in just 4 weeks of school, especially when you know there will be a number of quality teams participating.

"We feel like it is quite an accomplishment to take sweepstakes and to do it 3 out of 5 years."

The debate team will be competing this Saturday at two locations as a group of 12 will travel to Halstead for the Dragon Invitational Debate Tournament, while for the Angel on My Shoulder Meet, six novice teams along with their mentors will travel to Garden City.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com