Speech and debate begins to focus on end-of-year competitions

February 9, 2018 — by Patrick Li and Pranav Ahuja
Photo by Victor Rivas Umana

Seniors Ayush Aggarwal, Arun Ramakrishna, Sathvik Koneru, and Karthik Ramachandran qualified to the National Catholic Forensic League tournament in Washington DC after defeating the competition at a qualifying tournament in Sacramento. 

With the speech and debate season coming to an end, many members are training hard for state and national tournaments. Most of the major tournaments occur during second semester, so the team is meeting more often (three times as compared to one time a week) to prepare.

Some of the larger tournaments are Martin Luther King at James Logan, Stanford, National Catholic Forensic League and State and National qualifiers in March and April.

A lot of the preparation has been collaborative team efforts.

“It’s the home stretch; recently we’ve been working as a unit to make sure everyone is up to par, unlike in previous seasons where everyone was out for themselves,” junior Extemporaneous speech captain Arian Raje said.

The debate team has been doing very well this year. Senior Public Forum partners Ayush Aggarwal and Arun Ramakrishna have qualified to the Tournament of Champions — the most competitive debate tournament in the world.

At the latest tournament, MLK at James Logan High School, which took place from Jan. 12 to 14, Aggarwal and Ramakrishna made semi-finals in Public Forum, juniors Arian Raje and Ishan lakhani qualified for semi-finals in Extemporaneous speech and junior Victor Liu qualified to octo-finals in Lincoln Douglas.

Raje attributes this success to the way they have been practicing during meetings.

“For the last few practices we’ve watched each other’s speeches and have given feedback, unlike previous years where we’d just practice along,” Raje said. “Having the entire team watch and give feedback is very helpful.”

Aggarwal is looking forward to competing in a national qualifier tournament in Sacramento called National Catholic Forensic League on May 26. There are only four spots for the 150 teams competing, but Aggarwal is confident at least one of the debaters on the team will qualify.

Most of the freshmen on the team are doing Policy debate because its fast-paced nature will train them for other debate events. Some of the Extemporaneous students under captains senior Kyle Wang and Raje are doing well in tournaments and qualifying for the later rounds.

One of the students, freshman Audrey Lee, made it to semifinals in the Santa Clara University tournament on Nov. 17.

Most of the preparation for debates has been research-oriented.

“We want to know the topic inside and out so if people use sketchy arguments we can call it out instead of losing our perceptual dominance,” Aggarwal said.

Aggarwal said the team is concentrating on reviewing speeches from previous debates from tournaments and concentrating on the key mistakes they made.

“We’ve been working really hard lately for the larger tournaments coming up, and hopefully we can make it to the state and national tournaments,” Aggarwal said.


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