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Mixing and matching and winning

For Anthony Nixon and Katherine Bleth success on the debate circuit this season was a matter of trial and error.

Nixon, a junior, and Bleth, a sophomore, did not start the season as partners. They finished it together, though, and the results they've seen give them plenty of hope for the future. The pair finished second in their section earlier this month and last weekend they went 2-3 at the state debate tournament arguing the merits of increasing the country's reliance on alternative energy sources.

Nixon said he expected to advance to the state meet but finishing second in the section was a surprise. The pair lost their first three rounds at state before bouncing back for wins against teams from Mankato and Minneapolis North.

The three losses were to some of the top debate teams in the state.

"For being a junior and a sophomore I think we did really well," Nixon said.

Nixon knew coming into this season he would have a new partner. His teammate from last year had quit debate. He'd been working on his arguments since a debate camp in July, but he didn't mesh well with his first partner. He tried a few others, but nothing quite fit.

Bleth, meanwhile, started the season paired with one of her friends and had one other partner before uneven numbers caused coaches to pair Nixon and Bleth for a competition at Concordia College. The results there weren't great against strong competition, but Nixon said it was clear right away he and Bleth worked well together.

"We just got along much better," he said. "We just were happy doing it and we were having fun. That's important."

"We're really organized and we have really good communication," Bleth said.

Nixon expects the good chemistry -- and a little more time working together -- to translate into good things down the road. Bleth plans to attend debate camp this summer.

"Next year should be really fun," Nixon said. "We should be a much better team next year."