By Jenna Chesley
Scientists might say lightning never strikes the same place twice. However, this isn’t the case for senior debater Jasmyn Benavides.
Jasmyn was the State Champion as a junior for UIL Congressional Debate in its inaugural year. She also placed fifth in Policy Debate with her partner and former PHS graduate Tiffany Browne. This year, she placed third in Policy Debate at the UIL State meet with her partner, senior Dillon Hughes.
“Last year, placing first felt really good,” Jasmyn said. “It was almost surreal. This year, I am so grateful. I wasn’t expecting to place top anything.”
Policy Debate is a partner-based event debating a set resolution, whereas Congressional Debate is the newest form of debate which features an individual debating multiple resolutions.
“Policy Debate is 105 years old – actually, the very oldest event that UIL has ever sponsored – including sports and music,” UIL Speech and Debate Director Jana Riggins said. “It’s policy debate that started UIL. Our newest form of debate is Congress.”
Princeton has always done well in debate events. However, many teams had never advanced to semi-finals. Because of this, the term “Princeton Curse” was coined. However, Jasmyn and Dillon broke semi-finals, then finals and left placing third.
“Working with Jasmyn was really fun,” Dillon said. “We got along really well and joke around a lot. It was awesome to place where we did and almost unbelievable. This was the first time Princeton made it this far.”
In preparation for state, the team practiced at least eight hours a week. About six of those hours were spent on the computer for research.
“If I had to give advice to any new debaters, it would be to work hard,” Dillon said. “No matter how difficult it seems, don’t give up. I think we’ve left a good legacy behind just as everyone else has. We’ve always qualified for state.”
Jasmyn has been in debate all four years of high school.
“I guess I joined debate because I wasn’t really athletic and didn’t want to be in band,” she said. “But I wanted to be in something during high school. I figured I would give it a try.”
Her decision to join led to multiple state trips and many medals from UIL invitational, district, regional and state meets.
“We were the first Princeton team to break semi-finals,” Jasmyn said. “It felt so good. We finally broke the Princeton Curse. It was really bittersweet to end senior year with a bronze medal.”
Jenna Chesley is a PHS Journalism student and the story above is being featured as her final project.