On Jan. 9-10, Jefferson’s policy debate team competed in the annual high school debate tournament hosted by George Mason University (GMU), with several teams bringing home successful records.
The tournament consisted of six preliminary rounds that lasted for two days, with the highest-ranking teams advancing to elimination rounds on the last day. Juniors Alison Li, Rishab Negi, Aneesh Susaria and Jay Pan qualified to compete in the elimination rounds. Li and Susaria advanced to quarterfinals, and Negi and Pan competed in the semifinals round.
“I really enjoyed the tournament,” freshman Niharika Vattikonda, one of the underclassmen participants of the tournament, said. “It was a great learning experience, given that we debated some of the top debaters in the circuit,”
Including Jefferson, the tournament primarily consisted of teams from Broad Run and Oakton high schools, who were frequent opponents of the Jefferson teams during past Washington Arlington Catholic Forensic League (WACFL) tournaments.
Although the tournament had originally planned on separating the teams into junior varsity (JV) and varsity divisions, it merged the two into one unified pool.
“My debates were very competitive, including one of them being against a top team,” freshmen Gulnaz Sayed said. “Going as a freshman, varsity policy debates gave me an advantage to learn and excel using the experience of older debaters.”
With two more WACFL tournaments and upcoming major national circuit tournaments waiting, the team hopes to finish the 2014-2015 debate season on a high note.
“After this tournament, I was able to determine my areas of improvement that I needed to work on for the future,” Sayed said. “It’s not about memorizing arguments. Strategy is the key part of debate and I’ve learned that I can only get better by debating.”