The 2019 national qualifiers are in the books, and we have chosen representatives for nationals. A huge shout out to our volunteers: We were able to panel the qualifying rounds and provide a true nationals atmosphere. Thank you for all of your great feedback and energy!
DuVal: Jonathan Collins and Ernest Ntangu
The best team in the league this year based on their regular season record, Jonathan and Ernest lost for the first time at a local tournament during the qualifier, but still made it to nationals. Ernest, a junior, qualified last season with a different partner, while Jonathan, a senior, would have qualified, had his partner showed up for the tournament. Jonathan has won every other award that we offer (Ornstein Outstanding Debater Award, High School Debater of the Year, etc.), so this is a fitting cap to a stellar high school career. Ernest is the most prolific researcher in the league, and will look to finally break through into elimination rounds at the UDNC after several near misses this season.
DC International: Lola Rogin and Paola Almendarez
DCI has a strong history of being one of the teams to beat in the WUDL, and the legacy continues with Paola and Lola, who are likely the only freshmen and the youngest qualifiers at the UDNC. Paola has been competing since our second tournament ever, and is in her fourth year of debate as a freshman in high school. She's grown incredibly over that time. She (with a different partner) qualified to the UDNC as 7th graders, but weren't permitted to attend given the tournament's eligibility criteria. I am glad she is finally able to do so as a freshman. Lola has debated for almost as long as Paola, and has been collecting quite an array of trophies this season, winning a speaker award at every tournament (often top speaker), despite never competing in Varsity before this year. Lola (debating alone), was the first person to beat Jonathan and Ernest at a local tournament this season.
Kenmoor: Aisha Bah/Maya Cleveland and Asha Verma/Isatou Jawara
I had the pleasure of coaching Asha and Isatou at the Ornstein Summer Debate Institute last summer. They were the stars of an excellent JV lab, and have quickly emerged as a formidable force at the Varsity level despite their youth. Asha was named the Ornstein Outstanding Debater for 2018, the first middle school student and the first woman to ever win the award. Aisha, Asha, and Isatou were all strong debaters last season, rising to the JV level. Aisha wasn't able to attend camp, but has emailed me every question imaginable to be sure she kept up. Maya is completely new to debate this year, but thanks to a sharp mind and strong peer-learning on the Kenmoor team, she's emerged as an equal partner for Aisha. Both have been to at least one travel tournament against high school students from around the region, highlighted by Asha and Isatou's performance at Pennsbury, where they went 3-2 in the JV Division, finishing 11th (top 10 moved on to elimination rounds) and Asha finished as the 11th speaker (top 10 get trophies).
Greenbelt: Lexi Clarke/Christione Johnson and Isabel Ramirez and Chloe Mshana
I also had the pleasure of coaching Isabel in my JV lab last summer. She was the quietest person in the lab, but whenever she said something, it was always insightful and beyond where the rest of the class was a the moment. Chloe and Lexi also attended the summer debate institute, a clear sign of how it can give folks a leg up for the coming year. Lexi and Christione made the jump straight from Novice to the MS qualifying division, and really made some noise as the top seed at the 1st half of the qualifier, despite their lack of experience at the JV or Varsity level. Last year, Greenbelt's Edward Sun and Patrice WIlson made it to Varsity as middle school students, so these girls are continuing the trend of very talented Greenbelt debaters. Together with Coach Fortuna, Greenbelt has a great team culture of collaborative learning that will serve them well as we prepare for this tournament.
Hardy: Juliette Krevat and Philip Sipher
Hardy essentially started from scratch this season, as the team last year was all 8th graders. Juliette and Philip had made a name for themselves in the Novice Division, but hadn't ever competed above Novice before jumping over JV to the MS qualifying division. Excited for the challenge, they worked hard with Coaches Renae Salunga and Perrine Punwani and made the jump to Varsity. Focusing on conveying complex arguments in a simple, straightforward manner, they excelled and even had a few teams forfeit after hearing the 1AC. Juliette had to debate the 2nd half of the qualifier alone, but still managed to hold off all challengers to make it to the middle school national tournament. Hardy Middle School is hosting MS Nationals, and we are excited that they will be represented as the true "home team." Hardy's Katrina Tracy and Liam Deluce are the 1st alternates for MS Nationals should one of our teams be unable to compete.
Washington Latin: Jackson Lewis and D'Andre Person
Jackson and D'Andre have debated for three years, and were the founders of the debate team at Washington Latin. Originally, they were the entire team, competing as the sole entry for their entire 6th grade year with Coach Lee-Bey. Now, they are the leaders on a large, vibrant team that is competitive in all three divisions, setting a strong example for the younger students. While they can get complacent at times, Jackson and D'Andre step up when they need to and are strong speakers. They've traveled to multiple regional tournaments, and have the experience to excel at this tournament. Latin's Maxwell Burton and Aaron Smith are the 2nd alternates should multiple teams be unable to compete.
Other highlights from the qualifying tournament:
Eric Clarke of Columbia Heights, returning to form after a rough December and Jan, dominated the competition and finished 2nd overall in the Varsity Division. A talented musician as well as debater, Eric has been balancing debate and music as he prepares for college.
Stephanie Maceiko and Tremayne Beivens of Benjamin Tasker were some of the youngest competitors in the MS qualifying division. They had jumped straight to Varsity from Novice, as the best debaters on their team, and the first qualifier was definitely rough for them. Instead of resigning to the fact that they were in a bit over their heads, they buckled down, worked hard, and came back with a vengeance, winning a trophy and making themselves alternates for nationals, despite being the youngest team in the division.
Northwestern's Dennis Martinez and Alexa Figoura finally broke through, after getting 5th or 6th place in JV at every tournament this year. Instead, they finished 4th, with Dennis winning the 3rd speaker award. This is the strongest finish ever by a Northwestern team.
Phelp's Eris Mayfield and Edward Rogers, not normally partners, also dominated their respective divisions, going 4-0 and taking 3rd place overall in the Novice Division. This is a huge growth, especially for Edward, who started the year unsure if he could even speak for 8 minutes about anything.
DC Prep's Dylan Denney and Winta Nabadozzur won trophies in novice, despite this being Winta's first tournament ever!