Debate team hosts annual tournament

Tammer Bagdasarian

Harvard-Westlake hosted 290 debaters from around the country for its annual tournament, the Harvard-Westlake Debates, an octafinals qualifier to the Tournament of Champions.

The four-day event began Jan. 17 and was divided into two tournaments: the debateLA Challenge, a round-robin competition where students can challenge each other to debates and the main event, a Lincoln-Douglas style tournament. Harvard-Westlake debaters had several top finishes. Spencer Paul ’19 and Chronicle Opinion Editor Vishan Chaudhary ’19 each won the challenge event.

“There is always an added bit of pressure when you are debating at your own tournament since you really want to win it for the school,” Paul said. “Closing it out with [Chaudhary] was special since we sent a message that HW Debate is ready to continue our domination into the final trimester of the season.”

Assistant debate coach Jasmine Stidham said that although running a tournament is always chaotic, this event went surprisingly well due to help from volunteers and a new prize system.

“Instead of giving everyone trophies for certain elimination rounds, we made a donation to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League in their name,” Stidham said.

The school’s goal in hosting the event was to foster a sense of community and a competitive but enjoyable environment, Stidham said.

“Harvard-Westlake is always one of my favorite tournaments because it’s so close by and I’m friends with a lot of kids on the team,” tournament winner Rex Evans (Santa Monica High School ’20) said. “I was a little disappointed with my performance here last year, and it was great to see my hard work pay off this time around.”

To qualify for the Tournament of Champions, which will be held April 27-29 in Lexington, Kentucky, debaters need two bids, which they can earn by placing highly at national or certain regional tournaments.

“Going forward, our focus for the rest of the semester is to secure more bids to the Tournament of Champions and complete the qualification process for some of our varsity debaters,” Stidham said.