For speech and debaters, national tournaments bring excitement and stress

February 13, 2020 — by Serena Li and Joann Zhang

As spring approaches, so does the prime time for speech and debaters. 

The early months of the year focus on qualifying and preparing for the biggest nationwide tournaments, including the National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament (NSDA), the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Grand Nationals and the Tournament of Champions (TOC). 

Coast Forensics League (CFL) 3, one of the largest local league tournaments in recent years, took place on Jan. 23 at Milpitas High. Sophomore Nandini Desai placed first in the Humorous Interpretation speech category. 

“I didn’t expect to win at all,” Desai said. “It was stressful because the competitors were amazing, but I’m glad I did well.”

Sophomore Anouk Yeh placed third in Program Oral Interpretation (POI), senior Sammy Suliman placed fourth in International Extemporaneous (IX) and sophomore Selina Chen placed fifth in Expository.  

At the Golden Desert Debate Tournament at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Feb. 1-3, senior Ujjwal Krishnamurthi placed first, and senior Adhit Sankaran and junior Siva Sambasivam made the finals, winning first and 10th speaker, respectively. Senior Ronak Pai and sophomore Ayaan Haque reached the quarterfinals.

Additionally, Yeh, along with Sankaran, Pai, Sambasivam and junior Neil Shah, qualified for NCFL  Grand Nationals Tournament in Chicago after the Sacramento qualifying tournament on Jan. 22.

The CFL state qualifiers will be on March 1 at Leland High, and the top seven competitors will advance to the state competition. As for the national qualifiers, depending on the level of the district and the number of entries in the event, one to four competitors in each event will be sent to the NSDA Nationals, the most prestigious speech and debate competition of the year.

Sankaran and Pai automatically qualified for the National Tournament due to their high ranking in the 2019 tournament. They finished 13th, and additionally automatically qualified for the 2020 Tournament of Champions.                                                                                                     

The other team members share the same excitement. Selina Chen recently placed second at the Stanford National Invitational and won the James Logan MLK Invitational. She plans to continue competing in Expository Speaking at the Cal Berkeley Invitational from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17, and the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions (NIETOC) from May 8-10.

“I'm really excited since my speech is about a traditional Chinese instrument and my immigrant story,” Chen said. “I'm eager to travel to places like Houston for NIETOC to give my speech and spread my culture.”


13 views this week

Add new comment

Prove that you're human:

Photo of the week

On March 27, members of the Air National Guard converted the Santa Clara County Convention Center to a temporary federal facility for about 250 coronavirus patients. The center is to house those who have tested positive for the virus, but don't require intensive in-hospital care. More information can be found through the local news. Photo courtesy of Randy Vazquez of the Bay Area News Group.


Do you like remote learning?


Falcon In Print

Prime time for Indian culture

Scanners streamline tutorial sign-ins

New quarantine policy enforced for coronavirus

Career Day returns to introduce professional paths