Traveling across the country is quite unusual for high school athletics, and if it happens, it usually indicates an elite level of play from that particular team. The Jesuit debate team has gone to Los Angeles, Chicago, and now Orlando, completing their nationwide tour of a season. After their very impressive 3rd place finish at the Texas Forensics Association (TFA) State Championship Tournament, the team went to the University of Central Florida from April 8th- 12th for the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) Championships.
Jesuit brought 3 of their best teams to Orlando, Jake LoRocco ‘17 and Joe Hall ‘16, Emmanuel Ruiz ‘17 and Patrick Bender ‘16, and Beomhak Lee ‘17 and Alandro Valdez ‘17.
In their first time at the NDCA champs, Valdez and Lee faced stiff competition in the preliminary round, going 2-4 against other teams from Texas and all over the country. The duo finished 54th overall in the tournament, an excellent finish for their first time. Although it wasn’t the outcome he was hoping for, Alandro said that he’s “optimistic for next year,” hoping to build off of this year’s successes from the season.
The team of Ruiz and Bender looked to continue their hot streak following the 3rd place finish at state and wanted to make some noise at the national level. They started the prelims going 3-2 against two teams from Westminster, Notre Dame, and Berkeley, showing poise in the biggest tournament of the year. Then in the 6th, or “break,” round to decide if they’d advance to the elims, they fell to a team from Blake High School, tragically ending their season before the tournament ended. The pair wound up ranking 37th overall in the tournament in what would be senior Patrick Bender’s final high school debate tournament.
The third and final team of LoRocco and Hall also showed their strength in this tournament after their 17th place finish in the state championships. Much like Emmanuel and Patrick, this team went 3-2 in the first 5 preliminary rounds, battling teams from Westminster, Little Rock Central, and Harker, very stiff competition. In their break round, they lost as well, dashing Jesuit’s hopes of making it into the elims at the biggest tournament in the nation. Yet, this finish is in no way a disappointment to anyone who knows anything about debate.
The NDCA Championship is the “most competitive tournament that we go to,” according to Valdez, so even acquiring the points to go to the tourney is phenomenal. This debate tournament sadly marks the end of seniors Patrick Bender’s and Joe Hall’s illustrious high school debating careers, leaving their marks on Jesuit with their multitudinous amount of hard fought wins. Despite the somewhat bitter ending to an otherwise terrific season, the Jesuit debate team is poised to come back next year even hungrier and stronger, reaching greater heights than ever before.
Be sure to stayed tuned to the Roundup for coverage of not only debate’s upcoming 2016-17 season, but also every sports’ seasons for this year and the next!