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Great debate: Joshua Hansen qualifies national competition with 1st place finish

JACKSON, Wyo. — but Joshua Hansen just couldn’t shake the fact he came up short in qualifying for the Great Communicator Debate Series Championship. His 3rd place finish last month at the Midwest qualifier left the Jackson Hole Community School junior just out of the running for the big event scheduled for Simi Valley, California in July.

Joshua Hansen at Nationals in 2019. Courtesy photo

Not one to give up, Hansen elected to sign up for the at-large qualifier, pitting him against 209 debaters from 38 states—the only option left if he wanted to make nationals. And last weekend’s online competition was as grueling as it gets.

Hansen outlasted all comers until he was pitted against senior Asher Gladstone, representing Syosset High School in Long Island, New York. Gladstone was a veteran, qualifying himself for nationals last year. As the final two, both Hansen and Gladstone were guaranteed an all-expenses-paid trip to Cali for the chance to compete for some $25,000 in scholarship money. But Hansen didn’t sign up for second.

After 11 rounds of debating both sides of the resolution: “States are more effective at legislating to improve the environment than the federal government,” Hansen became the first speech and debate team member ever to place first in a GCDS qualifier when he took four of the five judges’ cards to win it all.

Hansen’s win adds to an already impressive season. In April, Hansen was crowned the Wyoming State Congressional Debate champion. As a member of the JHHS Speech and Debate team coached by Londe and Peggy Gagnon, Hansen will also be joined by Public Forum partner Preston Harmon at the National Speech and Debate Tournament from June 14-20, after the pair were two of the record 11 Jackson Hole High School team members to earn an invitation.

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