On February first John McDougall’ 14 and Albert Hwang’ 14 won the final round of the IHSFA policy debate tournament at Ben Davis High School a feet that has not been done by West Lafayette since 1987.
At the end of lunch on Friday January 31st, the hallway outside of Mr. Smith’s room was buzzing. Excited and nervous students awaited when they would clamber onto buses and begin their journey to Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis for the annual Indiana High School Forensics Association (IHSFA) State Debate Tournament.
Among the throng of students were ten debaters, dressed in their finest suits and skirts, who form what is known around the state as the West Lafayette Policy Squad. This squad consists of seven seniors, including John McDougall’ 14, Albert Hwang’ 14, Adam Anderson’ 14, and Ben Tally’ 14, whom after the two days of hard debating and months of prep work finally got their pay off when they heard the three word that changed their lives, “Postings are up!” which meant that the judges had decided who would be debating at the state championships.
“I went to look at the sheet to see the finals line up, but before I got there I was caught by Nick Kwolek (the assistant policy coach) in a hug. That’s when I knew we had closed out finals,” said Hwang. The final round was held in an auditorium with hundreds of people looking on.
“It was a dream come true – I was in the state finals,” said Anderson. The match was started with a coin flip, which was won by the team of John McDougall and Albert Hwang, affectionately referred to as’ Jalbert’. They immediately chose to debate the affirmative side of the issue.
The policy championship is won by winning three of the five ballots.
“I was really happy and surprised we won any of the ballots, and am happy for the team as a whole,” said Tally. Normally rounds only have one judge, but at state there are two per round in the preliminaries, three in the knockout rounds and five at the final round.
After the round was over, John and Albert were presented with a huge silver trophy that was first used in 1928. Accompanying the trophy was a large tri-fold plaque with the names of all the previous winners. West Lafayette has not possessed the trophy since since its four year win streak that ended in 1987. “It was a victory for the whole team,” said McDougall.