The Heritage Speech and Debate team travelled to two of the largest tournaments of the year this past weekend, coming home with awards in various categories. The competitions, one at Harvard University and the other at UC Berkeley, took place simultaneously from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20.
“The two ‘super bowls’ of debate are Berkeley and Harvard,” varsity debater junior David Min said. “Usually the West Coast schools go to Berkeley and the East Coast schools go to Harvard. From our school, the varsity team members go to Harvard while the JV and novice team members go to Berkeley as a kind of stepping stone for their debate career.”
Min competes in Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate, a style in which two individuals argue for their respective side of a topic against one another. Ranking among the top LD debaters in the nation, Min was invited to travel to the Harvard tournament two days early to compete in a round robin, a special type of debate to which only 14 students are invited to compete in.
“The round robin is run by Harvard students. They invite the best debaters from around the country and since the majority of us know each other, it’s sort of like a social event. Normally, debate rounds are randomly paired, but for the round robin, you go around the entire pool and debate everyone there. It’s still very competitive but there’s also free food and shirts. It’s more like practice before the actual event and those who participate in the round robin tend to perform better in the actual tournament,” Min said.
The rest of the team arrived at Harvard on Friday, joining up with Min before the start of the actual tournament.
“We had preliminary rounds Saturday and Sunday and the elimination rounds Monday. Preliminary rounds are spread all around campus, but Monday they all coalesce onto the Harvard campus, so we were actually debating in Harvard halls,” Min said.
Min made it to the quarterfinals and also received the award for first speaker, which means the judges scored his speaking ability highest out of all those competing.
“Since it’s the biggest tournament of the year, it’s very difficult. Competition came from more than ten states. The total number of competitors reached or surpassed 300 for each major event. Our team had to practice and perform really well to stand out,” Min said.
Meanwhile, competitors at Berkeley performed exceptionally as well. Among others, freshman Ian Bluth made it to Congressional debate semifinals, and sophomore Jordyn Allen ranked third place in her individual event.
“Holistically speaking, we did really well. We had people make it to final rounds from Congress, Public Forum, LD, and many of the speech events. We had a lot of young debaters—juniors, sophomores and freshmen—succeed this time in addition to the seniors,” Min said. “As we continue to engage in more competitive events, it’s not just the class of 2017 that’s progressing, but the entire debate team.”