Cleveland Cannibals Claim Second at State


Clarion photo Jaden Rapaport

Aelta Fang, Sophomore was Cleveland’s lone state champion. She placed first in Literary Interpretation for English language learners.

By Mirabella Miller, Editor-in-Chief

The Cleveland Speech and Debate team performed at an elite level among tough competition to finish second at the state tournament this year that lasted from April 18-20. The only team that was able to best them out of the 67 teams competing was Westview High School, who ultimately took home the championship. This was the ninth year in a row that the Cannibals placed in the top three at the state tournament, adding to their long legacy as a successful program and a point of pride for the Cleveland community.

Of the 24 entries that qualified for state, 16 made it past the initial round and thus were able to earn points toward the team’s total by placing. Four entries finished in the top five in their respective events (but did not win): senior Isabella Baird and sophomore Gus Glasheen took fifth in Parliamentary Debate, senior Maggie McBride and sophomore Adley Schwartz took third in Public Forum Debate, and senior Porter Wheeler took fifth in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Head coach Patrick Gonzales remarked that one of the things that distinguished the state competition this year from past tournaments were the successful performances from sophomores who qualified.

“State is won with juniors and seniors on the team, not only here but at any school. You just have to have rounds under your belt. But the strong showing by sophomores this year means good things for the future of this program,” he said.

In fact, Cleveland’s only state champion was a sophomore: Aelta Fang, who took first place in Literary Interpretation for English Language Learners. The category features speakers performing a chosen selection of prose, poetry, or screenplay with the goal of entertaining the judges and audience. After earning second at the district competition, Fang perfected her piece and earned first place from every judge in the room in the final round.

Fang’s piece was titled “Gazing After.” It “mainly tells the story of a mother looking at her son’s back, witnessing a series of changes in his growing process, and slowly making her realize that she also needs to make changes,” said Fang. It touches on the emotions of parenthood, and was a more serious choice compared to some others in the event.

Fang, who became involved in the speech and debate program in the middle of the season, moved from Shanghai to Portland with her family under a year ago. She was mentored by senior Eliana Kertzner, with very little coaching from Mr. Gonzales himself.

“In the beginning, I was also nervous and afraid. [But] people would not force you to do something, they would always help you and lead you on a path that was more suitable for you, so you will gradually know how to make a speech or debate,” said Fang of joining the speech and debate team.

The Cannibals are accustomed to taking home state championships, but the second place finish was far from a disappointment to the team.

“Once again Cleveland performed remarkably at state. We had our upsets, sure, but nevertheless everyone did their best,” said Wheeler.

“Even though we would have preferred to take first, at the end of the day as cliche as it sounds the most important part of state (and any tournament) was the time we spent together as a team and the experiences we had competing,” said McBride.