School hosts debate tournament


Spencer Paul ’19 participated in the debateLA Challenge round robin tournament and made it to the finals against Shruthi Krishnan from Greenhill School. Credit: Will Berlin ’19

Kendall Dees

Harvard-Westlake hosted 320 debaters from 10 different states for a Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate division Octafinals qualifier to the Tournament of Champions.

On the first two days of the tournament, 12 of the best debaters in the country competed in the debateLA Challenge.

“We try to have a more relaxed event where debaters and judges can slow down a bit and talk about the arguments with a little more depth when rounds are complete,” debate coach Michael Bietz said. “It also gives a great opportunity to forge friendships with students from around the country.”

The debateLA portion of the tournament is a time for the top-debaters to experiment a bit in their augmentation in a Round Robin tournament, Bietz said. Typically, students debate in pods but in this format, they were able to challenge anyone in the field.

“I like the challenge part,” debater Rex Evans, who goes to Santa Monica High school, said. “ It’s really nice being able to choose who you debate. It was something different but it was really fun.”

In hosting a tournament, the debate program strived to foster openness, transparency and cordial competition, Bietz said.

“The weirdest part of it was that you’d see kids you know from New Jersey or Texas debating in your math classroom and wonder what they were doing there,” Jaya Nayar ’20 said. “We also got to watch a lot of really good rounds between kids who live on opposite sides of the country because our tournament is so big. [It] was a really great experience that you don’t often get at tournaments because you’re too busy debating yourself to watch the good rounds.”

There were a number of notable performances from Harvard-Westlake debaters, including Tessa Augsberger ’22 who won the novice tournament and Spencer Paul ’19 who made it to the finals of the debateLA Challenge.