Debate wins tournament, to compete in National Qualifiers

Emily Hwang, Author

The Palo Alto High School Speech and Debate team is continuing an impressive season after winning the Western Novice National Championships for the third consecutive year. Additionally, four Paly students will compete at the National Qualifying Tournament at Bellarmine High School this weekend.

Junior Anna Lu, senior Noah Hashmi, junior Eric Foster and junior Helen Yan were selected to compete at the upcoming National Qualifying Tournament.

Junior Anna Lu and freshman Tanay Krishna pose together after Krishna won the novice division of the Western Novice National Championships. Lu will be competing at the National Qualifying Tournament this weekend at Bellarmine High School. Photo by Anna Lu.

According to Lu, only one Paly student in the past 11 years has moved on from National Qualifiers to compete at the National Tournament.

“I’m really hoping to qualify to Nationals but it’s always the most difficult tournament of the year since the Bay Area is the most competitive league for Lincoln-Douglas debate,” Lu said.

Paly debate coach Jennie Savage says she is hopeful that the debaters’ diligent preparation will give them a chance to qualify for Nationals. The debaters received professional coaching and have been practicing for weeks to perfect their cases, according to Savage.

Additionally, freshman Tanay Krishna won the novice division of the Western Novice National Championships, continuing Paly’s history of victory at the tournament.

According to Savage, success at the tournament last weekend was due to the hard work of the debaters and coaching staff, the help of varsity debaters for additional coaching and the supportive nature of the team. The performance of the debaters was impressive due to the level of competition at the tournament, Savage said.

“The Western States Novice and JV Championship drew the top beginning and intermediate debaters from the Western Region of the US, so competition was extremely fierce,” Savage said.  “In addition, the tournament was twice the size it has been in years past, so it was much more difficult to reach elimination rounds.”

Although the team is highly accomplished, Savage is proud of her team’s progress in and out of competition.

“We often say that our team is 49% about speech and debate and 51% about life,” Savage said. “We are exceptionally successful in competition, but our greatest strength and achievement is how bonded we are as a team and how we pull together as a family.”