Speech and debate performs well at annual Dempsey-Cronin Invitational

December 3, 2015 — by Divya Rallabandi and Kyle Wang

Over the weekend of Nov. 20-22, the speech and debate team competed at the annual Dempsey-Cronin Invitational held at Santa Clara University.

Over the weekend of Nov. 20-22, the speech and deb ate team competed at the annual Dempsey-Cronin Invitational held at Santa Clara University. Though this year’s competition was difficult, five of Saratoga’s speech 30 competitors advanced to the final round and four more advanced to semifinals.

Unlike past years, this year’s invitational offered “bids” to more prestigious national-level competitions later in the year, such as the National Individual Events Tournament Of Champions (NIETOC).

Senior Arnav Sarin said the chance to earn a bid increased the competitiveness of this year’s tournament.

Because [the Dempsey-Cronin Invitational] is designed to get some of the best speech and debaters fighting amongst one another for the NIETOC bids for finalists it really gets the speakers to try their best,” Sarin said.

This year, speech and debate powerhouses such as James Logan High School and Monta Vista High School attended for the first time in three years. Sacramento’s CK McClatchy High School also came for the first time, and Leland High School, which has historically dominated local tournaments, was also present.

In spite of the competition, sophomore Tyler Wu performed well at the tournament, placing first in Novice Original Oratory. Since the Dempsey-Cronin Invitational was his first tournament, Wu said he was initially nervous and confused about the process.

“I had literally no expectations,” he said. “I just wanted to get some experience.”

Though he wrote his speech, which discussed the importance of genuine passion, about a month before the tournament began and consistently attended practices, Wu said that he did not begin memorizing the speech itself until the night before the tournament. Although he believes that this decision made him more nervous going into each round, Wu said it did not affect his overall performance.

He took first place in every single one of his rounds, aside from one second-place ranking from one of three judges in the final. Between rounds, he spent his time memorizing his speech and “having fun with friends.”

“I learned a lot about tournaments in general,” he said, “and I think I gained a lot of experience from this one tournament.

In light of his success, Wu hopes to begin competing at the varsity level at later tournaments. To prepare for these tournaments, he said he will continue attending practices and “memorize his speech to the last word.”

Individual Events coach Lindsey Ayotte said students like Wu who do not skip practices will ultimately perform well at major tournaments such as the Dempsey-Cronin Invitational.

“It is clear that the students who come to practice on a weekly basis to rehearse their speeches and do practice debates have made tremendous strides when it comes to delivery and overall confidence,” Ayotte said.

Since the tournament occurs relatively early in the season, many newer team members also view the Dempsey-Cronin Invitational as an opportunity to build their confidence and gain some experience before later tournaments such as State Qualifiers, which occurs in February.