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McCarthy (12), Tripathi (12) win second at debate nationals

Katie Goldenberg, Staff Writer

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As many students packed away their studies for the summer, Honor McCarthy (12) and Siddharth Tripathi (12) faced the final round of the National Speech and Debate Tournament, receiving second place at the tournament. From June 18 – 23, McCarthy, Tripathi, Ethan Kim (11) and Sajan Mehrotra (11) traveled to Birmingham,Alabama to debate pairings from around the country in the prestigious tournament.

Tripathi and McCarthy, who remained undefeated until the fifteenth round, qualified for the tournament finals and debated in front of an audience of over 800 participating debaters as well as a livestream of over 10,000 viewers.

“The second we started debating, we felt in our element, in this impenetrable zone of focus,” McCarthy said. “We for

got that the audience was watching us and focused on doing what we love.”

“We weren’t surprised by their success, and it felt great to follow their progress at Nationals,” Debate Team Advisor Jonathan Nye said.

Kim and Mehrotra ended the tournament with a 7-7 record and returned a day early.

“Ethan and Sajan not only debated fantastically but supported us ceaselessly,” McCarthy said. “Their preparation and boundless knowledge of the topic was incredibly helpful, and they really stepped into their role as upperclassmen in this tournament.”

The topic debated throughout the tournament was whether or not the U.S. federal government should prioritize its counterterrorism operations over humanitarian aid in East Africa.

For the majority of the first 15 rounds, McCarthy and Tripathi argued the negative case and debated in favor of prioritizing humanitarian aid, but were assigned the pro case in the final round, McCarthy said.

Because they were more comfortable debating the negative case, the two spent most of their time leading up to the final ro

und familiarizing themselves with the pro case, she said.

The tournament varied from typical tournaments during the school year, which usually span weekends, in that it took place over the course of five days, Tripathi said.

While participants may only debate seven or eight rounds at a normal tournament, at Nationals they can debate upwards of sixteen, he said.

“We had to shift our attitude from a sprint to a marathon,” McCarthy said. “Fewer coffees, more sleep. Less fast food, more team meals. We debate best when we’re feeling best.”

The format of Nationals also differed from a traditional tournament, with two judges judging every preliminary round as opposed to only one, Tripathi said.

“The judges also have backgrounds from across the country; you can walk into a room and have a judge that’s never seen a debate round before,” he said.

With over 550 teams in attendance, the two pairings qualified for the tournament by default.

“Depending on the state and district you live in there’s a National Qualifier tournament,” Tripathi said. “This year we were lucky in the sense that there were no other teams in our district who entered to attend, so we automatically qualified.”

Although the pairing ultimately fell to their opponents and obtained second place, the experience provided the team with new confidence and energy, Tripathi said.

“I think it’s incredible that they were able to make it that far at such a competitive tournament,” Saif Moolji (10) said. “Their s

uccess makes the start of this debate season even more exciting.”

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McCarthy (12), Tripathi (12) win second at debate nationals