The Ohio Speech & Debate State Tournament: The Success Continues


Brady Condon '21

After a year of “important team meetings in the Glee Club room,” the US Speech and Debate team headed out to the State Tournament, which for many would be the last tournament of their high school careers.

The team had big shoes to fill, following a year of great success. Public Forum (PF), under Captain Kiran Krishnamurthi, had dominated the competition at home, consistently placing at local tournaments. PF also improved University School’s prestige nationwide, advancing multiple teams past preliminary rounds at George Mason University and Stanford and placing Nate Mayor and Sukhm Kang second out of almost 200 teams in the Stanford tournament. The Lincoln-Douglas (LD) team under captain Nick Protasiewicz maintained their reputation of supremacy and appeared to secure their future as sophomore powerhouse Michael Faegas found himself amongst the top eight debaters at George Mason. The community has also witnessed the meteoric rise of the Speech team under the effective captaincy of Arnold von Engelbrechten, Auryon Azar consistently placed in the finals of national tournaments in Dramatic Interpretation, and von Engelbrechten himself experienced success in both International Extemporaneous Speaking and Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Fueled by the departure of our dear friend (Mr. Paik’s printer) right before winter break, the competitors fought with vigor only seen in myths. All debaters in PF and LD advanced past preliminary rounds; Azar, Captain von Engelbrechten, and Condon placed in the quarter-finals in our respective speech events; and Arthur Li had moved on to quarter-finals in Congressional Debate, an event that he had never done.

The second part of the tournament was less forgiving. For LD, Protosiewicz was forced to walk-over (to win against without debating) Nehal Chigurapati and Calvin Chesler. Zach Paganini also lost in a close octo-final round. In PF, Sai Karnati and Daniel Yan fell in a close octo-finals match, and the team of Anish Ganesh and Abraham Paik were walked-over by the team of John Disantis and Krishnamurthi. In Speech, perhaps the most tragic of all, both von Engelbrechten and Brady Condon closely missed semi-final rounds. Instead of letting these losses get to them, the team gave their energy to supporting those who did move on.

That energy was put to good use, as Azar made it to the final round, winning fourth out of over 60 of the state’s finest. Similarly, Mayor, Kang, Desantis, and Krishnamurthi had closed out the final rounds, becoming State Co-Champions.

The last round of the night was Head-captain Protosiewicz against Kenston’s Tia Speece. Dozens gathered outside the debate room, eager to enter and watch history. Although spectators afterwards varied on the winner, the judges did not, as the decision was unanimous in favor of Nick. The spectacle of Mr. Lewis sweeping Nick off his feet in a bear-hug after finding out the results represented the overall feeling of US that night – jubilation. Overall, University School won 4th place at the tournament, and the return home was victorious.

Overall, the Speech and Debate team has not only experienced success this year, but it has also prepared itself for the next year. With five state champions, the team has certainly earned donuts for the whole school.

The year is not entirely over though, as Sullivan, Mayor, Kang, Ganesh, Paik, and Chiggurapati have all qualified for the national tournament, and many more have also qualified for other national tournaments like the Tournament of Champions. It seems that the Debate Team will be ready for yet another year of success.