Six debaters qualify for national championship

Claire Goldsmith

Six members of the debate team have qualified for the Tournament of Champions, which will be held April 27-29 at the University of Kentucky for the top debaters in the country. This is the greatest number of students from any school in the country, Head Coach Mike Bietz said.

Brendan Gallagher ’13, Andrew Sohn ’13, Julie Engel ’14, Shelby Heitner ’14, Annie Kors ’14 and Michael O’Krent ’14 each received two bids at various debate tournaments earlier in the season.To win a bid, a debater must reach a predetermined round at a tournament. Once a debater has two bids, he is automatically qualified for the TOC.

“Especially in debate, what’s difficult is to have a tangible marker of your success,” said Sohn, who qualified for the TOC last year and, since qualifying this year, has also received a third bid. “It’s really abstract and difficult to gauge if your work is paying off. Being qualified or having a bid is the closest you can come to having a stable metric of your proficiency in debate.”

Gallagher, Kors and O’Krent also qualified last year.

“I can’t wait to go to the TOC again,” Gallagher said. “I’m really happy that our debate program has grown since I was a freshman. It was very small but successful then, and now we’ve gotten to expand and be really good.”

The novice team and the middle school team have both been very successful this year, Bietz said.