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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Speech & debate: students predict more victories to come

When speech captain, junior Sujay Khandekar and sophomore Jason Li began their first rounds at the second Coast Forensic League Spring Individual Events (IE) tournament on March 3, they had no idea that they would both walk away as finalists. Khandekar and Li placed first and fourth, respectively, in Oratorical Interpretation.

Khandekar hopes that the team’s momentum will lead many members to qualify at the State Qualification tournament on March 18, which would allow them to participate in a state-wide tournament from April 27 to April 29. The State Quals will be the second-to-last final varsity tournament of the season with the Santa Clara University Spring Tournament being the last.

Currently, the entire team has been focusing all their efforts on being in the top four for the events in State Quals. As a result, their performance is better than ever, which can be seen in their recent success.

For Khandekar especially, this spring tournament has been the big break which he has been waiting for.

Despite the hectic pace of junior year, Khandekar managed to memorize and perfect his speech in time for the Spring IE tournament as a test run before attempting the State Qualification tournament.

This preparation is what allowed Khandekar to sweep the tournament although it was his first time ever competing with the particular speech.

“After the first two preliminary rounds, I was nervous but once I learned I broke to semifinals, I gained some more confidence and I knew that I just had to keep going the way I was going,” Khandekar said.

His strong mentality and work ethic is what Khandekar believes led to his success and he is currently looking forward to the next few tournaments.

“I feel fantastic. I’ve been busy all year and I haven’t really had any breaks and victories so this felt really good,” Khandekar said. “Plus, it was the first time I’ve ever gotten first at a varsity tournament in my speech and debate career.”

For Li, this is also the first tournament in which he has placed among the top four this year.
“Although winning is not a big deal to me, I am very happy to know that my performance could place so highly at such a prestigious tournament,” Li said.

Li also reached semifinals for both impromptu and oratorical interpretation at the last tournament he participated in. Like Khandekar, Li has high expectations for the rest of the season.

“I wish to qualify for the state competition and to win. The National competition may be too far for now, but it would be an honor to be able to get that far,” Li said.

Aside from Li and Khandekar, the rest of the team also did well at the tournament, with several semi-finalists despite some key members missing.

Junior Ishaan Kohthuri and sophomore Akshay Madhani placed 4th and 7th in domestic extemporaneous, and juniors Venkat Munukutla, Aneesa Mazumdar, Riddhi Sagnam and Deepti Kannan reached semifinals in their events.

Larger teams, such as Leland High School and Bellarmine Prepatory School have nearly always dominated the finals and semi-finals of speech tournaments. For SHS students to commonly advance to the semi-finals and finals rounds shows the talent that the team has.

“The team has improved a lot over the past few months. With each tournament, we all gain experience and ideas about what do next time,” Khandekar said. “We have come a long way from not breaking to semifinals to placing in final rounds.”

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