Palo Alto High School’s Speech and Debate Team is preparing for the State and National Qualifiers tournaments after its recent successes in the national circuit.
At the Stanford Invitational Tournament, held from Feb. 8 to Feb. 11, varsity debaters senior Allen Zheng and junior Kevin Zhang both made it to double octafinals in the Lincoln Douglas division. Additionally, junior varsity debater freshman Andrew Gibson reached semifinals.
The UC Berkeley National Invitational, from Feb. 15 to Feb. 18, proved to be just as successful for the Speech and Debate Team. Zheng again advanced, or “cleared,” to the elimination rounds, reaching the triple octafinals in the tournament. Junior varsity debaters freshman Gabi Rossner and sophomore Hannah Zhang also both reached double octafinals. Rossner was one of the top seeds in the preliminary round and Zhang ranked as the 13th speaker. Additionally, in Speech, varsity speakers junior Kate Musen and senior Evelyn Wang made it to octafinals in Impromptu speaking and Dramatic Interpretation respectively.
“We did really well, historically we do well at those two tournaments,” debate director Jennie Savage said. “At those tournaments both in speech and in debate we had speechies and debaters enter the elimination round … so that’s very prestigious for our school.”
For Zhang, the Stanford Invitational sparked mixed emotions.
“Before and during the round, I was really nervous because my opponent was one of the best debaters in the country, but I still thought that at the very least even if I lost it would be a good learning experience,” Zhang said. “After the round I was a little disappointed that I lost since I made a few bad choices in terms of argumentation [and] strategy.”
Despite his disappointment, the tournament still proved to be a major achievement for Zhang.
“It was the first time this year that I’ve managed to make it into [or] win a round [elimination] at a national circuit tournament,” Zhang said.
However, Zheng did not share Zhang’s feelings of accomplishment. Hoping to receive a bid for the Tournament of Champions in May, he was unable to reach a bid round in either tournaments. According to Zheng his performance throughout the year remained constant.
“It’s pretty much how well I did the rest of the season,” Zheng said when describing his performance at Stanford and UC Berkeley.
With the season coming to a close, the Speech and Debate Team will compete at the State and National Qualifiers tournaments March 15 to March 16 and March 22 to March 24 respectively.