Debate team wins in Iowa invitationals, moves forward

By David Lim and Ana Scuric

Lincoln-Douglas debaters will head off this weekend to the St. Mark School’s Heart of Texas Invitational in Dallas and The New York City Invitational at The Bronx High School of Science.

Both tournaments are among the most competitive in the country and will be attended by eight members of the debate team.

Earlier this month, one of the eight debaters, Michelle Choi ’12, reached the semifinals of the Mid-America Cup at West Des Moines Valley High School.

She was the youngest of the four debaters who reached that round and received a bid to the Tournament of Champions.

Two bids must be acquired by reaching higher rounds of important tournaments to be invited to the Tournament of Champions, which is considered the most prestigious tournament in the national debate circuit.

Brendan Gallagher ’13 was in contention for a bid when he reached octofinals but lost his round and was eliminated from the Mid-America Cup tournament.

The team has swelled in size this year to around 40 participating members.

“We have kids that are both successful nationally and also a bunch of new kids sort of coming up which will hopefully build stronger tradition,” debate coach Mike Bietz said.

Earlier this month, most members of the team attended the Long Beach Tournament on Oct. 2 and 3. It was the first major tournament for the freshman debaters on the team in the Lincoln-Douglas format of debate.

“Lincoln-Douglas and middle school debate are so different, because in Lincoln-Douglas debate, you only have yourself to rely on rather than debating with two other teammates,” Julie Engel ’14, a former middle school debater said. “But I like it better because it is up to you to win or lose, and everything you accomplish is all on your own merits.”

Engel won second place in the tournament after losing in the final round. This is the third year in a row that Harvard-Westlake has made it to the finals and lost at this particular tournament.

Another freshman debater, Annie Koors ’14, made it to semifinals at her debut in Lincoln-Douglas debate and ranked in the top four out of the 160 competing debaters.