Freshman Students Dominate at State Debate Tournament

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Freshman Students Dominate at State Debate Tournament

courtesy of Texas Forensic Association

courtesy of Texas Forensic Association

courtesy of Texas Forensic Association


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“Is everyone ready?”

Freshman Michelle Sun took a deep breath before diving into her 4 minute long constructive speech. She along with five other freshman debaters competed at the Texas Forensic Association’s annual state debate tournament in La Vernia from March 1-3. Four 9th graders dominated at the tournament, taking back top honors in several categories. However, the new students were not always this dominant. The transition from middle school to high school debate was a big shift for many of these 9th graders. Freshman Luna Chen, Sun’s partner, described her experience during the initial shock of competing at a higher level.

“Cardinal debate is a very different from my middle school debate program. I went to Lanier middle school where the main focus was just getting kids involved. High school debate has a much bigger emphasis on winning and being prepared for tournaments,” Chen said.

Freshman Vedanth Ramabadran expressed a similar sentiment to Chen. For him, strategic changes were also made to help him adjust to high school debate.

“High school debate requires discipline and determination. Getting prepared for every tournament is a must-do. In the beginning of the school year, I was still debating like a middle schooler, but our debate coach Mr. Stubbs intervened and helped me make some changes that turned things around. I started focusing more on my presentation rather than just speeding through the entire speech. After I did that, I really started to see my results change,” Ramabadran said.

Public Forum is a partner based event that has become the most popular debate event in competitive high school debate. Both teams of Luna Chen and Michelle Sun, and Vedanth Ramabadran and Omar Busaidy compete in Public Forum. The organization of speeches for the particular style of debate starts with constructive speeches from both teams, followed by rebuttal speeches. Crossfires, a questioning period, are scattered throughout the debate. After accruing 12 points from advancing to the final rounds of several local tournaments, these teams were able to qualify for the State Tournament (State) .

At the tournament both teams were able to complete the five preliminary rounds with a positive winning record.  The teams of Ramabhadran and Busaidy, and Chen and Sun both finished with a record of 4-1. Chen was rated in the top 10 speakers at the tournament of over 250 competitors.  Team Chen and Sun lost in the double-octofinal round while Ramabhadran and Busaidy advanced all the way to the quarter-finals round before losing to the eventual champions of the tournament. Both teams reflected over the experience.

“After operating on five hours of sleep per a night for the week leading up to the tournament, being able to hit the goal of breaking into the top 32 was super relieving,” Sun said.

Ramabhadran also noted that his hard work had paid off.

“My experience at State really solidified my belief that preparation is really important to succeeding. A deep understand of the topic is essential competing against the best in Texas,” Ramabhadran said.

Both freshman teams have big hopes for the future. After their success at the State tournament, they are hopeful that their abilities will allow them to compete at a high level next year.

“I want to achieve more and more and it’s definitely not stopping at State. I know I am going to continue to encounter obstacles once I start debating at the next level, but I will definitely know how to overcome them through the lessons of persistence and hard work. I learned during my time preparing for State,” Sun said.

When the new debate season starts in the fall, the teams have no doubt they will take the local Houston circuit by storm as sophomores. With the experiences and lessons they learned from the State tournament, both teams will be a force to reckon with.



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