|Sahil Gupta '17 with his fifth place trophy.|
An exhausted Speech and Debate team pulled into the Upper School parking lot just after midnight this weekend. Through the exhaustion that comes from a 48-hour tournament, each one walked off the bus with a smile and a sense of pride. After a season of hard work, these students got to see the rewards of their effort. At the Tarheel Forensic League State Tournament, the Advocats won high accolades.
Representing the school were Nathan Ball ‘15, Ryan Bastin ‘17, Sahil Gupta ‘17, Camilla Halsey ‘17, Annalise Mangone ‘17, and Samantha Davis ‘18. Accompanying the team were co-coach Mark Wonnacott and staff volunteer Janis McCambridge.
In Novice Lincoln-Douglas, Sahil Gupta posted an impressive record of four wins against one loss in preliminary rounds. Based on his record and judges’ preference, Gupta was the third seeded competitor. He won his octofinal round in decisive fashion, but lost a narrow decision in quarterfinals. His performance was good for recognition as the fifth best novice debater in North Carolina.
“It was exciting to see all my hard work paying off,” said Gupta. “My teammates and coaches were right there with me, supporting me every step of the way.”
“This was a remarkable individual performance,” Wonnacott said. “Sahil is an incredible competitor, and this was a great accomplishment.”
Gupta’s performance was not the only success at the tournament. Bastin posted an even record heading into the final preliminary round, where a narrow loss kept him from advancing. The team of Halsey and Davis similarly put up an even record, but missed elimination rounds on a close decision. Ball, the squad’s lone varsity competitor, rebounded from three tough losses against top-4 finishers to post two wins on the tournament’s second day. In Oral Interpretation, Mangone expanded her piece to include prose from the history of human rights. Her performance put her in the top 20 in a highly competitive field.
Overall, the squad finished fourth among small schools at the tournament. “This isn’t like athletics, where we compete against schools of the same size,” Wonnacott said. “Our kids are going toe-to-toe with teams of a hundred or more. That they hold their own is a testament to their mental toughness and determination. I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve done this season.”
The team finishes its season March 20th and 21st at Riverside High School, host of the Tarheel West District National Qualifier. For more information about the team, please contact Mark Wonnacott.