By Staff Writer Maggie Zhao
Speech and Debate took 4th Overall at the District Sweepstakes at the 2017 California Coast National Speech and Debate Association Tournament on March 17 to 19 at Bellarmine College Preparatory, a tournament that determines which competitors from the local league will be eligible to attend the 2017 National Speech & Debate Tournament.
Debate sent five teams to the tournament, two of which qualified to the National Tournament. Out of the 13 competitors Speech sent to the tournament, three qualified to Nationals. Speech’s achievements at the qualifying tournament also break a five-year streak of a lack of competitors from Speech at Nationals.
The top three teams at the tournament in Public Forum Debate qualify to Nationals, two of which were from MSJ. Similarly, the top three competitors from each Speech event qualify to Nationals. In Debate, Seniors Keshav Kundassery and Max Wu won second place, with a 6-1 record. Juniors Robert Chen and Devesh Kodnani were third place, also with a 6-1 record. In addition, Sophomores Arunav Gupta and Ishan Maunder had a 5-1 record, and Seniors Neha Dubey and Steven Shi had a 3-2 record.
From Speech, Junior Rohan Srinivasan and Freshman Swetha Naidu were third place for Duo Interpretation, and Freshman Ayush Agarwal was third place for Programmed Oratorical Interpretation. In addition, six other competitors from Speech were semifinalists. Speech President Senior Anthony Chen said, “Over the past few years, our team has collectively poured in a lot of work to perform well at these high-stakes tournaments. A big part of the competition’s results lies with the judging, … so all we can do is keep putting in work and hope for the best. Our team this year persevered, and the tournament results reflected that effort, and I’m so proud of our team for that.”
Public Forum Captain Senior Keshav Kundassery said, “The most rewarding part of national qualifiers was finally being able to qualify our senior year, after three years of not being able to qualify.” Both the Speech and Debate teams were able to gain valuable insight and experience from the Nationals qualifier. Junior Devesh Kodnani said, “We learned that we’re ultimately all part of one team, and contribute to a group effort. This year, we all helped each other out, and while three teams from Mission should have qualified, only two were able to advance as a result of random pairings.” Freshman Swetha Naidu, who qualified in Duo Interpretation, said, “[National qualifiers] … was so scary because going into the final round, all the competitors were amazing and … the moments leading up to our final performance were filled with a lot of internal pressure, but this tournament really helped me learn how to deal with it.”
The competitors that have qualified will attend the national tournament in Birmingham, Alabama from June 19 to 23. Debate Coach Victor Rivas Umana said, “The last two years we have had teams in the top 30 at Nationals, and this year, we hope to have at least one team in the top 14.” Chen said, “Our district is very competitive compared to the rest of the nation, … so for our competitors to make it out of our district, I’m feeling optimistic and rooting for their performance at Nationals.”
Speech and Debate’s achievements at the 2017 California Coast National Speech and Debate Association Tournament comes at the end of a successful season for both teams. In the coming months, Speech and Debate will be busy preparing for tournaments such as States, Nationals, and the Tournament of Champions.
Photos Courtesy MSJ Speech