Speech and debate team works towards qualifications for State meet

Maite Napoliello

The speech and debate team has been successful in its competitions this year. At the Travis Tournament Jan. 22-23, the team placed third overall in Team Sweepstakes, its best finish so far. Speech teacher Joseph Uhler, who is in his first year teaching at Westlake, has led the students to prepare for upcoming competitions.

“I think we’re really taking some steps in the right direction,” Uhler said. “At the competition at Travis, we got third place overall, and this is at a competition with 27 other schools, so I think that’s a really positive result.”

Most of the team’s successes at the beginning of the year were in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and now the team has expanded to be successful in a range of events, with more students placing in tournaments. These events include original oratory, duo interpretation, dramatic interpretation, congressional debate and foreign extemporaneous speaking.

“Our recent success is due in large part to the fact that the students have been staying late to practice from when the bell rings to sometimes 6 or 7 o’clock,” Uhler said.

Many students have qualified for State already, and their final chance to do so is at the San Antonio competition this weekend. In order to qualify for State, each person must get 12 points in their event over the duration of the season. These points are earned through winning and getting into elimination rounds. Some students, like captain senior Vinay Maruri, have already qualified.

“My experience this year has been great, as it’s been the most successful I’ve been in my career,” Vinay said.

Several students will compete at the Harvard Tournament Feb. 11-15 in Boston. This meet is in the national circuit, which means students who make it to a particular round throughout the year in one of those qualifies them for the Tournament of Champions. Students must gain two bids to qualify. Captain senior Drew Burd already has one bid, so getting into the higher level rounds is important in order to go to the Tournament of Champions.

“I hope to be in the top 16 or top eight people to improve from last year where I made it to the top 32,” Drew said.

He hopes to advance to the elimination rounds at State and qualify for quarterfinals there as well.



Travis Meet Results


-Drew Burd won first place

-Sophomore Aro Majumder advanced to semifinal round

-Vinay Maruri advanced to quarterfinal round

-Junior Alexander Davis, sophomore Zakary Morris, freshman Amanda Chen advanced to octafinals


Duo Interpretation

-Junior Qi Wang, senior captain Kati Chen won first place


Original Oratory

-Qi Wang placed second

-Kati Chen placed third

-Senior Remi Ogunsanya placed fourth


Dramatic Interpretation

-Remi Ogunsanya placed third


Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking

-Senior Zach Stoebner advanced to the semifinal round


Congressional Debate

-Junior Sid Rao placed fifth