Don’t bother starting an argument with Miriam Pritschet or Nick Greatens unless you’re prepared to lose.
Pritschet, 14, a Brainerd High School ninth grader, and Greatens, 17, a BHS 11th-grader, both members of the BHS debate team, qualified at the district qualifying tournament Dec. 9-10 at St. Michael-Albertville Schools to compete at the 2011 National Forensic League National Tournament.
The national tourney is planned for June 13-17 in Dallas.
Only six Minnesota high school students are able to go on to compete at the national level each year. Greatens qualified for nationals as an alternate last year in Kansas City and was able to compete since there was a vacant spot. This is Pritschet’s first year to go to nationals but also her first year on the high school varsity debate team.
BHS debate coach Dave Pritschet — Miriam’s dad — said he knew his daughter had some natural talent when she was 5 and didn’t want to go to bed.
“She gave me a five-pointer, five points on why she shouldn’t go to bed — and it worked,” he said with a laugh.
This is her third year in debate and this year, her first on varsity, Miriam Pritschet placed at every debate she’s competed at this year.
“You’re always nervous when your debaters are debating and when it’s your kid, it’s even worse,” said Dave Pritschet.
Assistant coach Dave Borash said BHS had several students in the past qualify for nationals, but Pritschet and Greatens are young and have achieved much in their high school debate experience so far.
“He’s the reason these kids are so successful,” Borash said of coach Dave Pritschet. Pritschet has coached the BHS debate team since 1993.
Both teens compete in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which is a one-on-one debate that involves a topic that they must research and argue their points. The topic changes every two months. The debate season starts in September with the first tournament in mid-October, finishing the season with the state competition, which this year will be Jan. 14-15.
Miriam Pritschet and Greatens also qualified to compete at state.
Greatens said he isn’t too enthused about researching his debate topics, but he enjoys arguing.
“You learn how to argue really well with your parents,” Greatens said of debate. This is his third year on the team.
Miriam Pritschet said she learned a lot from debate through the process of researching topics, learning how to gather the information you’ll need, as well as arguing your points.
“She’s really good,” Greatens said of Pritschet. “She’d beat me in an argument. She’s a good speaker, really engaging and good at thinking on her feet.”
“I debated him once and he had really good evidence,” Pritschet said of Greatens.
Both teens said they’re looking forward to competing at nationals.
“I’m very interested in what it will be like,” said Pritschet. “I’m scared to find out what the topic is.”
Greatens said competing at nationals last year was a good experience for him.
Greatens is also involved in Symphonic band and Knowledge Bowl; Pritschet is involved in band and orchestra.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.