The West Lafayette debate team waited eagerly and held their breaths as the finalists were announced at the state tournament held in Kokomo on February 1st and 2nd.
“There was pretty much an explosion of cheering and jumping up and down and mass hugging,” Robin Zhang ’14 said. “That was the moment when we knew we’d captured the state title.”
The last time the debate team was named state champions was in 2007. Last year, they lost to Chesterton.
Sarah Cai ‘14 said this tournament was amazing because they were able to take the state title back from Chesterton after several years of getting second. This was the first time in six years West Lafayette has beaten them.
“It’s one of the best seasons we’ve had in a long time,’ said Mr. Smith, the debate coach. Cai ’14 and her partner Zhang ’14 got second in state losing to state champions Andrew Redd ’13 and his partner Charles Hansen ’13 in the Public Forum category.
In the tournament, there are three preliminary rounds, with two judges in each round. From this, the top 16 from each category break into octafinals. Each round has three judges and is single elimination, the final round having five judges.
As a group the categories met weekly to collaborate. However, preparing for the tournament is a year long process. They try to find out what the opponents will use as arguments and practice with other members in the team.
“Andrew and I practiced with other members of our team, worked outside of school and during break to prepare for the topic, and got help from Mr. Smith and our assistant coach Nick Kwolek” Hansen said.
“Everyone puts in a lot of time and effort,” Redd said.
The team hopes to keep the state title for a while and keep improving as a whole. Redd ’13 said the best part about debate is widening your views on a subject.
“Going into a topic, most people are one sided, but once you leave the topic and have done research on both sides, you see the other view point clearer,” he said.
Despite the competitiveness of the activity, the team is all very supportive of each other.
“Even though we all compete against each other and the stakes can get pretty high, we all want each other to do awesome. I’ve made so many great friends through debate, people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Zhang ’14 said.
In fact, in her pre-tournament speech, Neha Ramani’13, the president of the debate team, described the team as truly a family.
Octafinals: Jake Gutwein and Jesse Sasser
State Runners-Up: Sarah Cai and Robin Zhang
State Champs: Andrew Redd and Charles Hansen
Octafinals: Austin Moore
Quarterfinals: Hannah Lazarz, Chris Shin
Semifinals: Daniel Smith, Erica Gibson
Finals: Sang-A Yun, Neha Ramani (8th)
Octafinals: Ben Tally and Adam Anderson, Brian I. Choi and Alyssa Cheng
Quarterfinals: Mariana Cisneros and Agustina de la Fuente, Albert Hwang and John McDougall