Bishop Blanchet high schoolers grounded by East Coast snow

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 14 at 6:58 AM

Airports across the country are dealing with massive numbers of flight cancellations, thanks to a winter storm that battered much of the east coast. Among those impacted by the cancellations is the high school debate team at Bishop Blanchet.

The team's coach, Peter Lukevich, said that his seven of his students was originally supposed to leave Seattle at 10 p.m. on Thursday. They planned to travel to Harvard University for one of their biggest debate tournaments of the year.

KING 5 spoke to the team's co-captains about how excited they were for the opportunity.

"This tournament was the culmination of a lot of the senior members, the speech and debate team's efforts," said senior Danny Crowley. "It was really exciting for all of us to be able to go somewhere completely new and debate completely new people. I mean, the best of the best were going to be there."

On Wednesday, Lukevich got an alert from Alaska Airlines that their flight might be impacted by severe weather in and around Logan International Airport in Boston.

He immediately called Alaska Airlines and was able to move the entire team to a 9:45 a.m. Thursday flight. The airline thought that would improve the team's chances of making it to Boston.

Then, Thursday morning, the coach got the call that the morning flight had been cancelled as well.

"It was pretty disappointing," said senior Marielle Trumbuer. "We tried flying into Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia and Boston, we just couldn't get flight."

With no flights available before the debate tournament was set to start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, the team had no choice but to cancel the trip.

Lukevich says it's a huge disappointment for his students, many of whom are seniors. This was their first big out-of-state tournament, and their last chance to go.

Crowley hopes his younger teammates will get the opportunity next year.

"They're going to have to carry the torch, be the first ones to make that trip to the East Coast," he said.

Instead of the event at Harvard, the team will take part in a debate on Friday and Saturday held at Newport High School in Bellevue.

"Not quite as cool as Harvard, no," said Trumbuer, laughing.  "But it will still be a fun tournament."

She also hopes it will qualify at least one of their teammates for the state championship tournament later this year.

Their flight was among almost 6,500 cancelled nationwide as a result of the winter storm that impacted many of the hub airports, from New York to Atlanta.

A spokesperson for SeaTac Airport told KING 5 that 30 flights coming and going out of Seattle were cancelled on Thursday, thanks to the snow blanketing much of the East Coast.

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