Speech and Debate attended the 46th annual Cal Invitational from February 16 to 18 at UC Berkeley. Listed as one the most competitive tournaments of the year, the invitational hosted 206 schools from 23 states around the nation, as well as some international schools from China and Taiwan. MSJ had 64 students at the tournament and ranked ninth place out of 227 teams.
MSJ competitors advanced to elimination rounds in various speech and debate events. Speech Captain Senior Samir Banerjee and Speech Treasurer Senior Rahul Iyer placed fifth place in Duo Interpretation. Banerjee also placed fourth in Humorous Interpretation, and Junior Ayush Agarwal placed fifth in Thematic Interpretation. Going into the tournament, Senior Ishan Maunder and Junior Rithvik Koppurapu were already one of the top three Public Forum (PF) debate teams in the nation. During the tournament, they placed in the top eight teams as octofinalists and received Speaker awards for 12th and 11th place respectively.
The invitational is the last tournament to receive bids for the Tournament of Champions (TOC), widely considered to be the most difficult national debate championship.
Maunder now holds 22 bids for the TOC, the most out of any debater in PF history, and he and Koppurapu became the team with the most bids in the country for this year. Maunder said, “It’s a commemoration of the work I’ve put into the activity for the past couple years.”
He attributes his success to competing with his former PF partner, Alumnus Devesh Kodnani, the previous record holder of 21 bids. One tournament in particular, the National Speech and Debate Tournament in June 2018, was a turning point for Maunder. “We’d be constantly working and grinding just so we could achieve the level of success that we did … It was my last year with Devesh and the first tournament that I realized I had to carry on that mantle and take his role in MSJ Debate,” said Maunder.
The Cal Invitational is one of the most competitive tournaments of the Speech and Debate season. According to Banerjee, MSJ sent a high number of competitors to the tournament and performed notably well, especially for a public school lacking professional coaches and resources. “At Mission, we don’t have professional coaching [or] a lot of the resources that other schools do … it’s really inspiring to see we’ve managed to do so much with relatively little compared to a lot of these other schools,” Banerjee said.
According to Debate Vice President Katherine Guo, this year, Speech and Debate improved overall as a team and worked more cohesively with each other. “I’m really proud of how MSJ Speech and Debate did as a whole. This year we had a lot more unity between the two previously divided sides … I think Berkeley was a shining point for us in terms of unity and cooperation,” said Guo.
Photo Courtesy Senior Ishan Maunder