Public Forum competes at WACFL Metro Finals


Photo courtesy of Pegah Moradi.

Jefferson’s Public Forum Debate team won the team sweepstakes at WACFL Metro Finals, and two varsity teams qualified for Nationals.

Ellen Kan, Managing Editor

On March 8-9, Jefferson’s Public Forum Debate team competed at the Washington-Arlington Catholic Forensic League (WACFL) Metro Finals. The team came away with some major wins, including first place in the team sweepstakes.

In addition, for individual awards, the top six teams that compete in the varsity division qualify for the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) national tournament. This year, two teams qualified: juniors Pegah Moradi and Sudhamsh Tippireddy placed first in the varsity division, and sophomores Dhruv Gupta and Srijith Poduval placed fourth.

“Winning the Arlington diocese was fantastic, and it really gave value to all the hard work Pegah and I had put in,” Tippireddy said. “It would’ve been better if we could’ve won the finals round as well, but I’m still proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

The other teams that placed in the tournament were composed of sophomores. Kiran Girish and Sahana Ramani finished eighth, while Pranav Gulati and Srikar Kosuri finished 10th. Kevin Lin and Bijal Rajput finished as quarterfinalists in the junior varsity division, as did Victoria Yang and Rushi Shah.

Although Jefferson’s Public Forum team typically does well at Metro Finals, the team rarely comes away with the first place team award, which made this year’s accomplishments even more satisfying. Their success was a result of more than just luck, however, as all of the teams prepared extensively before the tournament.

“For the preceding two weeks, we used TJ Databases and scoured Google pages for research,” Gupta said. “We had it all sorted into different files so that we could shoot down the opposing teams’ arguments.”

The debaters were also proud that they managed to triumph over their own nerves in addition to their opponents, especially because they only occasionally find themselves at in front of a large audience at such a high-stakes tournament.

“I was actually really nervous in the beginning, but as the rounds went on, it became more and more natural,” Tippireddy said. “When it got to the finals round, though, the nervousness kind of peaked because we had to debate in front of about 50 people and I wasn’t used to that at all.”

Nationals will be held in Chicago on May 23-25. The teams that advanced hope to take advantage of the competitive environment to better their skills.

“We didn’t expect anything at Metros, so we definitely don’t expect anything at NCFL Nationals in Chicago,” Gupta said. “We just want to have fun and learn as much as we can about debating. The biggest thing is coming home as better debaters.”