December 4-6 University of Texas (12/4-12/6)
At the Longhorn Classic at the University of Texas, the debate team novices had a successful run at the national level tournament. With 40 schools competing from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, and Georgia, freshman team Brandon Gibson ‘24 and Peter Loh ‘24 ended the preliminary rounds winning 3 of the 5, earning 15th seed and making it to the top 16 bracket. In the elimination rounds, they upset second seed Hebron in a close 2-1 decision, making it to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, they lost to 7th seeded Westwood in a close round, ending in 5th place.
Berkner (12/8-12/9; 13 teams)
On the first weekend of December, from December 8-9, Jesuit Debate sent senior team Gabriel Skariah and Ethan Williams and sophomore team Lawrence Jin ‘23 and Jon Noquil ‘23 to compete at the last local tournament of the semester. After 4 nerve-wracking preliminary rounds, the senior team won 3 of their 4 rounds and achieved 4th seed, securing them a place in the elimination bracket. Unfortunately, they would lose in the semi-finals to get 3rd place, however becoming the 4th Jesuit team to qualify to the state tournament in March. Both Skariah ‘21 and Williams ‘21 were recognized within the top 15 speakers of the 26 debaters that competed.
In the Novice division, freshman Brandon Gibson ‘24 and Peter Loh ‘24 competed as well, winning all 4 of their preliminary rounds and earning 2nd seed. In the top 8, the freshman team unfortunately lost to a close 2-1 decision to Greenhill. Both freshmen were recognized within the top 10 speakers at the tournament, of 46 debaters.
Isidore Newman (12/11-12/13; Louisiana; 27 teams)
In the last tournament of the first semester, Jesuit debate sent 2 teams to compete in the varsity division of the Isidore Newman Invitational in Louisiana. 27 teams competed from around the region including teams from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Louisiana. After 6 arduous rounds, senior team Joshua Ramos and Jack Martin achieved 9th seed, qualifying to the top 16 bracket. Moving through the competition, Martin and Ramos beat higher seeded West Highschool SLC from Utah on a 3-0 decision in the octofinals and top seeded BASIS San Antonio from Texas on a close 2-1 decision in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, the senior duo debated Westside highschool from Texas, unfortunately losing to a 3-0 decision but still earning 3rd place, a great indication for the future second semester season.
Coppell Classic (1/7-1/ 8; 16 teams)
Following the tradition of Jesuit debate, they sent multiple big brother teams, or teams of an upperclassmen and underclassmen, to compete at the Coppell classic to gain good experience, specifically senior-sophomore combo Martin ‘21 and Jin ‘23, and senior-sophomore combo Ramos ‘21 and Varun Ratnasabapathy ‘23. Along with two big brother debates, senior teams Skariah ‘21 and Williams ‘21, senior-sophomore team Nick Badovinus ‘21 and Dominic Chacko ‘23, and sophomore team Noquil ‘23 and Tejas Murugesh ‘23 all competed at the local tournament. After 4 preliminary rounds, Jesuit made up half the bracket, with big brother team Martin and Jin earning 1st seed, Skariah and Williams earning 2nd seed, Badovinus and Chacko earning 6th seed, and Ramos and Ratnasabapathy earning 7th seed. With Martin and Jin beating Greenhill and Isidore Newman and Badovinus and Chacko beating Woodward, Jesuit closed out the tournament, earning 1st and 3rd place respectively, with Skariah and Williams earning 2nd place and Ramos and Ratnasabapathy earning 5th place. Williams, Martin, Skariah, and Ramos were recognized as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th speaker respectively and Murugesh and Jin being recognized within the top 15 speakers.
In the novice division, Jesuit debate sent 3 teams, freshman team Loh ‘24 and Kyle Ma ‘24, junior-freshman team Gibson ‘24 and Patrick Ma ‘22, and freshman team Jackson Farragut ‘24 and Robert Hernandez-Hoffman ‘24. After 4 rounds like the varsity, Loh ‘24 and Ma ‘24 achieved 4th seed, making it to the top 8 bracket. In the elimination bracket, the freshman team beat 5th seeded Hebron Highschool, unfortunately losing in a tough 3-0 decision to the top seed and winner of the tournament St. Mark’s. Both Loh ‘24 and Ma ‘24 were recognized in the top 10 speakers of the tournament.
Cougar Classic at the University of Houston (1/14-1/16; 49 teams)
On January 14-16, Jesuit debate sent 3 teams to compete in the Cougar Classic at the University of Houston in Texas. After 5 tough preliminary rounds from across the state and more, senior team Martin ‘21 and Ramos ‘21 were ranked 7th seed, winning 4 of their 5 preliminary rounds, and senior-junior team Burns ‘21 and Jain ‘22 achieving 19th seed, with both teams making it to the top 32 bracket. In the double-octofinals, the senior-junior duo lost to higher seeded Young Genius Bay Academy from California in a close 2-1 decision, securing 17th place in the top 32. The senior duo of Martin ‘21 and Ramos ‘21, won their double-octofinals round against Archbishop Mitty from California on a 3-0 decision, going onto beat second seeded Westwood in a 2-1 decision and higher seeded Shark Academy in another 2-1 decision. In the finals of the tournament, the senior duo debated Reagan Highschool from San Antonio, prevailing in a 3-0 decision, making Jesuit history and winning the Cougar Classic for the first time in Jesuit history.
Guyer (1/15-1/16; 17 teams)
In the complete other side of the state, Jesuit debate sent two sophomore teams, Murugesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23, and Gaither ‘23 and Jin ‘23. After 4 preliminary rounds, both teams made it into the bracket, receiving 4th and 5th seed respectively. Unfortunately, this meant that they hit each other in the bracket and sophomore duo Murugesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23 walked over Gaither ‘23 and Jin ‘23. In the Semifinals, the sophomores debated top seed Coppell highschool, unfortunately losing to a tough 3-0 decision. Regardless, their placement in the bracket meant that Murugesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23 were just 2 points away from the next State Qualification.
Round Rock (1/22-1/23)
The following weekend after Guyer, Jesuit debate sent the sophomore team of Murugesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23 to get the final 2 points for the TFA State tournament in March. After 4 nerve-wracking rounds against teams from Aledo, Westwood, Winston Churchill, and Hendrickson, the sophomore team won 3 of their 4 rounds, making it to the elimination rounds by earning 4th seed AND being the 5th Jesuit team to qualify for the state tournament. In the elimination rounds, the duo won their quarters round against 5th seeded Reagan High School in San Antonio. Unfortunately, the team lost in a tough 2-1 decision against Winston Churchill highschool, the eventual winners of the tournament, but securing 3rd place. Both sophomores were recognized in the top 10 speakers of 34 debaters at the tournament.
As one of the few tournaments in February, Jesuit debate sent their 3 senior teams of Martin ‘21 and Ramos ‘21, Burns ‘21 and Jain ‘22, and Skariah ‘21 and Williams ‘21 to compete in the Cal Invitational hosted by UC Berkeley. After 6 long rounds competing against teams around the country in one of the biggest tournaments of the year, senior team Martin ‘21 and Ramos ‘21 won 4 of their 6 prelim rounds, making it to the top 45 teams to compete in the elimination bracket by achieving 29th seed. Unfortunately, the senior duo lost in a tough 3-0 decision against Lexington TK, gaining 33rd place out of 127 teams.
In the Junior Varsity division, Jesuit debate sent sophomore pairs Ratnasabapathy ‘23 and Murugesh ‘23, and Jin ‘23 and Gaither ‘23. After another arduous 6 rounds, sophomore team Ratnasabapathy ‘23 and Murugesh ‘23 won all 6 of their rounds, earning 2nd seed and securing a place in the top 16 bracket. In the elimination rounds, the Jesuit duo beat 15th seeded Brooklyn Technical on a close 2-1 to move into the quarter finals round. In the quarter finals, the team hit International team Taipei American, losing to a narrow 2-1 decision, ending their run, but earning 5th place out of 53 teams that competed. Ratnasabapathy was recognized within the top 20 speakers out of 106 debaters.
On March 10 to March 14th, the weekend before Spring break, Jesuit debate sent 5 teams to compete at the TFA State tournament, the culmination of 4 years of debating for the seniors. Specifically, senior team Martin ‘21 and Ramos ‘21, senior-junior teams Burns ‘21 and Jain ‘22, senior team Skariah ‘21 and Williams ‘21, senior-sophomore team Badovinus ‘21 and Chacko ‘23, and sophomore team Murgesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23 all competed for a spot to win the championship. After a 6 hour war room, full of debate prep, and 6 stress-inducing rounds, both duos of Martin ‘21 and Ramos ‘21 and Burns ‘21 and Jain ‘22 won 4 of their 6 rounds, ranking high enough to make it to the elimination rounds, continuing the Jesuit tradition of having teams in the elimination bracket for the past 10 years. In the double-octofinals round, the senior duo debated against LC Anderson while the senior-junior duo debated against Greenhill, a long time rival. Unfortunately, both teams lost in a tough 3-0 decision to both teams, both earning 33rd place out of the 70+ top Texas teams that competed at the tournament. Both Ramos ‘21 and Martin ‘21 were recognized within the top 25 speakers at the tournament.
The last weekend of Spring break, the Jesuit debate team sent their second year and novice debaters to compete at the 1st and 2nd Year National Championships hosted by Woodward Academy in Georgia. In the 2nd year division, Jesuit sent sophomore teams Gaither ‘23 and Ratnasabapathy ‘23, Jin ‘23 and Chacko ‘23, and Murugesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23. After 6 close debates, debating teams from around the country, Murugesh ‘23 and Noquil ‘23 won 4 of their 6 rounds in a row, making it to the top 16 as the 15th seed in the elimination bracket. Unfortunately, in their octofinals debate, they debated 2nd seed Alpharetta from Georgia in a tough 3-0 decision. Ratnasabapathy was recognized 16th speaker out of 102 debaters with Murugesh rounding out at 21st speaker by 0.1 speaker point.
In the 1st year division, Jesuit debate sent freshman teams Gibson ‘24 and Caden Cutchall ‘24, Farragut ‘24 and Hernandez-Hoffman ‘24, and Loh ‘24 and Ma ‘24. After 6 close debates, with many debaters having their first experience on the national circuit, Gibson ‘24 and Cutchall ‘24 won 4 of their 6 rounds, earning 25th seed to debate in the top 32 bracket with the other two freshman teams closely qualifying by winning 3 of their 6 rounds. In the elimination bracket, Gibson ‘24 and Cutchall ‘24 upset higher seeded Westminster from Georgia, the 8th seed at the tournament, on a close 3-2 decision. Unfortunately, in the Octofinals, the freshman duo lost to 24th seed University of Chicago Highschool, earning 17th place out of 73 teams that competed.
Insights from some Debate members
“Overall, I’m looking forward to racking in the wins this spring semester and consolidating the competition!” I thought this season went well for the JB duo. We were able to dominate the local competition as we broke at every local and made it to at least the semis which was very satisfying after last season. We qualed to state which makes me really happy because it means I’ll be able to go to state for the first time. Not only did we do well at locals but we also held our ground at national tournaments getting to the doubles of both grapevine and Houston which was great. – Aarin Jain (‘20)
“For debate, I think the team has made tremendous success on the local circuit as well as several good showings at the national circuit as well. I’m looking forward to TFA State which will be the last tournament I go to as well as the several big national tournaments that remain this semester.
For the novices, I would say don’t get overwhelmed, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you may not do well in the beginning, the results of focusing on improvement as well as practice will come to fruition.”- Gabriel Skariah (‘21)
“While this year wasn’t exactly what I was expecting as my Senior year, I’m glad I have continued with debate my 4 years of high school. It’s funny to look back at my debate self Freshman year and see the progress both in debate skill and knowledge that I’ve made in 4 years. While I didn’t get the tournament success that I was hoping for, I think Jack and I still had a successful year and I’m excited to see what the rest of the mostly-underclassman debaters have in store for the rest of their debate careers” – Joshua Ramos(‘21)