Over the past month, the school’s varsity debate team has experienced a streak of success in both the regional and national circuit. The season’s victories culminated in a record-setting 13 students qualified for the Tournament of Champions being held April 27-29 in Lexington, Kentucky.
According to a National Symposium for Debate update, out of seven schools with TOC qualifiers, Harvard-Westlake debaters secured the top spot with 57 total bids.
Because of the mass individual and team successes in recent Lincoln-Douglas and Policy tournaments this season, the debate team has achieved the largest number of TOC-qualifying students the program has ever seen.
Chronicle Opinion Editor Vishan Chaudhary ’19 took home the main tournament title, out of the 300 entries from across the nation attending the UC Berkeley Invitational on the weekend of Feb. 8-10, .
Third place winner Jaya Nayar ’20 secured Top Speaker, and Chronicle Assistant Broadcast Editor Alexandra Mork ’20 won Third Speaker in the round robin portion of the event.
At the Stanford Invitational on the weekend of Feb. 18-21, all 16 of the Harvard-Westlake participants cleared to the elimination rounds including Chaudhary, Nayar, Spencer Paul ’19 and Ari Davidson ’19, who closed out the tournament.
The Golden Desert tournament, which took place Feb. 2-4 at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, concluded with Davidson and Nayar, who had been competing in Policy style debate as an adjunct to their commitment to the Lincoln-Douglas team as finalists.
“I am exceedingly proud of these two,” Head of Harvard-Westlake Debate Program Mike Bietz wrote in a social media post. “This season they went to four national tournaments in Policy Debate, earned four bids to the TOC, defeated some of the nation’s top teams and just capped off this side-hustle by making the finals of the UNLV tournament after going 6-0 in prelims.” According to Nayar, the effort the team has put in to propel them this far and the experience of the journey itself is worth far more than any letters on a plaque.
“I’m so proud of how our whole team is doing and how much we support and love each other,” Nayar said. “We’re like a little family and I think at the end of the day the amount that we all care for each other is more important than any wins or losses.”