Sophomore varsity debater wins congressional debate event

Amy Yu, Editor-in-Chief

Sophomore varsity debater Alex Selwyn poses for a picture with his medal from the Martin Luther King Jr. invitational last weekend at James Logan High School. Selwyn began to prepare for the MLK invitational after attending a debate tournament in Arizona. “The competitors, including my teammates, were very talented, and I learned a lot just by debating with them,” Selwyn said. Photo: Amy Yu

After triumphing at the Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational Debate Tournament at James Logan High School over the weekend, the Palo Alto High School Speech and Debate team is celebrating a victory by one of its newer team members and is preparing for the heart of its tournament season, including a big challenge this weekend in Milpitas.

The team, which specializes in speech, Lincoln-Douglas debate and Congressional debate, sent over 20 varsity debaters to the MLK tournament and was delighted when sophomore Alex Selwyn placed first in congressional debate, according to senior Ashley Hitchings, co-president of Paly Speech and Debate.

The competitors at MLK tend to be more experienced, but the Paly debaters “really crushed it,” Hitchings said.

Similarly, the team performed well in Speech and L-D debate. Juniors Isabel Armstrong and Kai Vetteth were quarterfinalists in the speech events Oratorical Interpretation and Impromptu Speaking, respectively.

In L-D debate, the team sent six debaters to elimination rounds. Hitchings placed as a semifinalist, while junior Christine Tu won 6th place speaker. In addition, juniors Kai Vetteth and Neil Kapoor progressed to octafinals. Seniors Ria Vora and Nisha McNealis made double octafinals.

The MLK invitational was Selwyn’s first tournament where he progressed to the final round. He said he began to prepare for the MLK Invitational two weeks prior to the competition and did not expect to win.

“Just being able to engage in the high-quality debate was really exciting,” Selwyn said. “I felt happy to represent the Congress team at the tournament, and I’m grateful for having the guidance of my teammates and my coaches.”

According to Hitchings, few underclassmen were able to attend the MLK invitational due to the limited number of slots.

“Seeing the zest, hard work and love for debate of those [underclassmen] who did attend is what makes me hopeful for the future of our team,” Hitchings said.

The Speech and Debate team is preparing for the California Forensics League Tournament, which will take place this weekend and can guarantee members a spot at state qualifiers.