From April 15-17, MSJ Speech and Debate competed in Lexington, KY at the Tournament of Champions (TOC), held in-person for the first time in three years. With over 118 entries in the Gold Public Forum (PF) division and 89 entries in Lincoln Douglas (LD), this was the biggest tournament in the high school Speech and Debate circuit. Despite facing several setbacks, club members displayed stellar performances at the tournament, with several competitors reaching elimination rounds in LD debate.
The TOC has an extensive qualification process, in which competitors must earn at least two bids, or reach late elimination rounds, at tournaments early in the school year. Additionally, members spent several hours perfecting their arguments and presentations in the weeks leading up to the tournament. For example, PF competitors debated on the benefits and harms of the collection of biometric data. “We really spend a lot of time doing research on many different facets of the topic to craft our arguments,” Junior Vedesh Kodnani said.
At the TOC, MSJ’s debaters were immediately challenged by the different styles of competition. “The style of debate at the TOC is significantly more technical, so we had to adapt to more experienced judges and stringent competition,” Kodnani said. After reaching semifinals last year, the PF teams fell short of their expectations with the highest record of all MSJ PF teams being from Junior Yuvraj Walia and Sophomore Vedatman Duhoon, who ended with a 4-3 record.
However, the LD debaters performed spectacularly at the competition, with Juniors Shrey Raju and Saranya Singh dominating their preliminary rounds 4-2 and 5-1 respectively, and moving on to double octofinals. From there, Raju won his first elimination match, and advanced to octofinals. “I had some good rounds [against] some really talented debaters, so I’m pretty happy with how it went,” Raju said.
In the future, MSJ Speech and Debate members look forward to more local and large-scale travel competitions, and hope to qualify more students to the TOC next year. Through hosting weekly labs and setting up informal schoolwide tournaments, officers are focusing on providing more resources to support novice members. “I think that throughout the year, the fact that so many members were able to qualify to TOC was already such a big accomplishment, and I hope we can have even more go next year,” Singh said.