Competing against the best: Yale Invitational National Debate Tournament

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Speech and debate competitors sophomore Coby Ackerman, sophomore Oliver Laczko, sophomore Abigail Canalego, sophomore Saatvik Kaul and senior Juliette Reyes display the awards they earned for finalizing in their respective events. “Winning awards at a tournament like this is something every competitor aspires to do, and I admired all the kids on our speech team who did so well,” junior Anika Dahm said. (Photo submitted by Isaac Ratzan)

Flying over 1300 miles across the country, the varsity Speech and Debate Team competed at the nationally-recognized Yale Invitational tournament. In a pool with more than 500 kids competing in multiple varsity events, 25 students from Heritage made the trip to compete September 13-15, in New Haven, Conn.

The Yale Invitational lasted from Friday to Sunday and had students competing all day. The first two days of the competition consisted of speech and debate competitors fighting for a spot in Sunday’s elimination rounds. 

With over 150 people entered in each event, the Invitational is always a tournament with, “pretty intense competition” junior Anika Dahm said. 

Among top competition from around the country, the Heritage speech and debate students held their own. Three students on the team made it to the playoff rounds on Sunday in Lincoln Douglas. Junior Anika Dahm advanced to the elimination rounds and finished in the triple octofinals, placing in the top 64. Sophomore Emilio Mathew also moved on to the elimination rounds and finished in the double octofinals, placing in the top 32. 

Senior Perry Beckett advanced to the semifinals, ranking as one of the top four debaters at the tournament. For this, Beckett received a bid for the Tournament of Champions, which, “is very prestigious and a difficult tournament to qualify for,” Anika Dahm said. So long as Beckett receives another bid, the team will invite him to face the best of the best at the Tournament of Champions in April.

The Speech team also had students finalize in their events. Senior Juliette Reyes placed fourth in Extemporaneous speaking and sophomore Abigail Canalejo placed second in Dramatic Interpretation and third in Program Oral Interpretation while sophomore Coby Ackerman placed second in Original Oratory. With multiple students bringing back trophies, the speech and debate team will head next weekend to the Mid America Cup in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Jack is a junior and a new addition to the newsmagazine staff. Outside of writing for the sports section, Jack has been a starter on the varsity lacrosse team since his freshman year, as well as being an active fisherman. Jack is in a few clubs outside of the school and plans on going to college at his dream school, The University of Michigan.

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