Northside Debate Starts Year Strong
by S. Aleksander Black
Northside College Prep’s debate team had a victorious weekend, as they earned two highly sought after Tournament of Champions (TOC) bids on Sept. 9. They competed at the Niles Township Invitational and faced off against several other high schools to see who would come one step closer to participating in the TOC, which is held every April in Lexington, KY.
The team of Luther Snagel, Adv. 800, and Aidan Kane, Adv. 808, succeeded in subduing a team from Walter Payton College Prep and received their bid with a 2-1 count in their quarterfinal debate. The duo of Magali Ortiz, Adv. 911, and Alex Pinheiro, Adv. 907, won against a team from Solorio and earned their bid with a score of 3-0. However, both teams ended up losing in the semifinals.
Several other teams had excellent performances, despite not receiving a bid towards the TOC. The team of Jon Hart, Adv. 903, and Kathy Martinez, Adv. 910, were only one ballot short from earning their own bid, as they lost 2-1 against a team from Glenbrook North during the event’s quarterfinals. The tournament included 89 different teams, coming from five different states. Northside did very well, as five of the nine teams it sent made it to the elimination rounds.
The tournament provides bids towards the TOC for each team competing in the semifinal rounds. In order to reach the semifinals, teams have to pass six preliminary matches, in addition to their three elimination rounds. Snagel and Kane earned the 7th seed with a 5-1 record at the end of their preliminary rounds. Ortiz and Pinheiro were seeded 25th with a score of 4-2.
This is the first time that Northside debate has had two teams earn TOC bids in the same tournament. In order to fully qualify for the TOC and guarantee placement, which is an exclusive privilege reserved for the top 72 teams in the United States, a team must earn two total bids. However, a team with one bid can still apply as a general entrant and have a chance to participate in the TOC. The teams of Wasim Rahaman, Adv. 909, and Christian Sparks, Adv. 905, as well as Kyler Campion, Adv. 909, and Kenny Larson, 902, joined Snagle, Kane, Ortiz, and Pinheiro in the elimination rounds, but did not make it to receiving bids. Several other teams performed excellently, but fell short of the elimination rounds.
Larson, who has participated in debate for three years now, described the tough competition. “A lot of well-respected teams went to the tournament,” he said. “The hardest part of preparation was trying to figure out the opponent’s arguments and to be able to counter their thoughts,” said Larson. “Research is also pretty tough preparation.” Campion agrees, as he said that “the hardest part is definitely knowing your ideas and counterarguments,” he said. “But I think we have good prospects this year, especially since two of our teams got bids.”
Northside debate is well-known within the school as being competitive and willing to travel anywhere, but Larson and Campion both agree that debate is something they know and love. Campion said, “What I like most of all is making arguments on a wide variety of topics.” With a smile and a nod, he said he will definitely be joining the debate team next year, too. Larson said, “I think the community and friendship are my favorite parts of debate.”
The Northside debate team is looking strong this year, both in performance and in participants. Keep an eye on the team as they continue the season and look to earn more bids for the TOC.