The MinneApple: A Not-So-Mini Weekend


Apple Valley’s debate team poses for a picture after a long weekend of competition.

This past weekend, Apple Valley hosted one of the largest debate tournaments in the nation. With over 20 states represented and three events offered, hundreds of debaters flocked to the highly coveted MinneApple.

The week leading up to the tournament was jam-packed as Apple Valley’s speech team worked hard to organize rooms, put up signs around the school, pick marble apples, and more.

Photo Credit: Bill Blatzheim
Competitors await the start of the awards ceremony.

Apple Valley’s novice and junior varsity debaters also had a lot on their plate. As one of the most competitive tournaments of the year younger debaters, each of them spent hours practicing with their coaches. Varsity debaters did not compete this past weekend, but they did help the novice and junior varsity debaters prepare.

Among these varsity debaters were captains Cori Roberts, Abby Brachio, and Kenan Anderson. Senior and co-captain of the Lincoln-Douglas debate team, Roberts said, “It made me really proud as a captain to see how much my younger teammates have grown since the first practice.”

As Friday came around, many Apple Valley students slept in for their day off, but the debaters geared up for competition. Around noon, debaters from all across the nation began registering at the high school. Afterward, debaters who were not competing at the high school were shuttled to Scott Highlands Middle School or Falcon Ridge Middle School. Unlike other years, Valley Middle School was not a site of competition due to construction.

Friday night brought some tired debaters, but they were ready for their last two rounds the following morning. On Saturday after completing the last preliminary rounds, juniors Tai Henrichs and Brandon Schellhaass advanced to junior varsity Lincoln-Douglas outrounds, as well as sophomore Dallas Mahal in novice Lincoln-Douglas.

At the award ceremony, former policy debate coach at Apple Valley, Wayne Brinton, was the spotlight speaker. He represented the American Legion and handed out the sought-after marble apples to the champions in each event.

In addition to Brinton’s speech was the Distinguished Alumni Award. This year, former debater and Apple Valley alum, Chris Theis, was awarded this prestigious apple. It represents his hard work in the debate community and his continued dedication to the team.

Photo Credit: Bill Blatzheim
Left to Right: Tai Henrichs, Brandon Schellhaass, and Dallas Mahal smile with their apples in hand.

The team itself won three apples. Tai Henrichs was an octafinalist and Brandon Schellhaass and Dallas Mahal were quarterfinalists in their respective events. While the team did get some hardware, captain Cori Roberts said, “Success isn’t always measured in apple-shaped trophies (though we earned plenty of those), and all of the debaters learned a lot at one of the most prestigious competitions in the nation.”

Yet, the awards ceremony did not mark the last day of competition. Apple Valley also hosted a round robin consisting of some of best debaters in the nation. Out of eight debaters, the two representing Minnesota were Apple Valley’s Kenan Anderson and Lakeville North’s Noah Gallagher.

Once Sunday wrapped up, debaters began making their trek back to home. For some, it was a ten-minute drive, and for others, it was a plane ride back to New York. Next fall is sure to bring another MinneApple full of talented debaters and shiny red apples.

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