No debate: Wheeling HS team setting a legacy

Posted4/23/2010 12:01 AM

Wheeling High School's debate team has become something of a legacy.

Over the past 14 years, the varsity debate team has won nine state congressional debate titles.


During that same 14 years, no other team has won more than once.

"I am so excited that this group of students gets this once in a lifetime experience of not only winning, but doing it together," said Mike Hurley, the team's head debate coach, on April 16 and 17, Wheeling beat 35 teams from across the state including schools like New Trier, Stevenson, Highland Park, Deerfield, Lake Forest, Barrington and Hersey. The high schools competed in the two-day competition at Northern Illinois University. This year, Wheeling beat out the second place team, Lake Forest High School, by 13.5 points, the largest winning point spread Hurley has ever seen.

The Wheeling team wrote and submitted a bill that created a 10-cent tax on plastic bags in grocery stores that would fund alternative energy sources.

Hurley attributes the team's success to the students' commitment to preparation. Over the 18 days the team had to prepare, the 14 students that made up the varsity and junior varsity teams put in over 350 hours of

practice and preparation, both with coaches and on their own. The four varsity team members, Jon Tracey of Buffalo Grove, Chris Schwarz of Arlington Heights, Nate Ruben of Wheeling, and Samantha Zuba of Wheeling, accounted for about 100 of those hours.

Tracey was the only senior on this year's team.

"This truly is a dynasty," said Wheeling's Principal Laz Lopez about his debate team.

- Sheila Ahern,