The busiest part of our schedule has finally wound down, and I’d like to share the exciting news about the Pennsbury Falcon Invitational, our last major travel tournament of the season. The tournament is a Semi-Finals Bid to the Tournament of Champions.
The WUDL brought 12(!) teams and 40(!) students to the tournament. We had so many folks that some had to follow the charter bus in a car because we couldn't all fit!
This was the largest trip we’ve ever done, bringing a league record 20 teams (40 debaters) and 17 adults (15 coaching and judging). 6 teams from 4 schools had never been to a regional competition before. Many thanks to the volunteers and coaches that made this possible!
We had three teams break to elimination rounds in JV:
Freshmen Jackson Lewis and D’Andre Person from Washington Latin
Freshmen Savanah Alexander and Juliette Krevat from School Without Walls
8th Graders Joey Villaflor and Jener Balk from Capital City
Joey, debating with a different partner, broke to elimination rounds for the second time this year at a regional tournament. He and Jener didn’t advance further in elimination rounds, losing on a technicality, but what they’ve lost on is very fixable and positions them well to be successful at middle school nationals this year.
Jackson and D’Andre have been debating with us since 6th grade, and had definitely felt frustrated and stuck, too good for local Novice/JV competitions but not really ready for regional competition. This breakthrough was a morale boost for the boys, showing them that the experience and hard work they’d been putting in was starting to translate into actual accomplishments.
Savannah and Juliette also are experienced middle school debaters (Savannah won trophies at the NSDA MS tournament the last two years, and Juliette finished her first year of debate (8th grade) as 5th in the nation at UDL MS Nationals). Despite their experience, they have only been to three tournaments this semester and are quite rusty.
Washington Latin (12th Seed debating the 5th Seed) and School Without Walls (10th Seed debating 7th seed) both won upsets in their first elimination rounds, advancing to quarters, where were finally eliminated.
We even got good speaker awards:
Washington Latin: Jackson Lewis: 6th Speaker
Capital City: Jener Balk: 7th Speaker
Capital City: Joey Villaflor: 8th Speaker
The last team I’d like to highlight is Luke C Moore. Luke C Moore is D.C.’s alternative, drop out prevention high school, a school were folks go to finish their education if they get off track at another school. We kicked off a debate program there in November, and their hard work earned them a trip to this tournament. While they only won 1 round, they had really strong speaker points given their record, a great signal that they belonged at this level of competition.
The prep team that helped out our elimination round participants, from left: Oliver Acar (Capital City Alumni and judge), Kevin Tezi (Bowie, Senior), David Trigaux (Program Director), Kaitlyn McClinton and Elizabeth Ballah (Seniors, Bowie), Andrew Samuelson (Volunteer), Guillermo Vidaurre (Board Member), Dara Davis (Program Coordinator), Danielle Dupree (DuVal Alumna and MS Coach), and Jonathan Gonzalez (Volunteer)
In Varsity, we had two teams close to break rounds that didn’t advance on speaker points: Ernest/Justin and Zara/Lucy from School Without Walls.
The boys are frustrated at their most recent close but no cigar finish at a bid tournament, but they’ll have another shot at the Westchester Classic in late February.
I am so proud of how the girls from School Without Walls bounced back from a rough tournament at Lexington (completely defeated) to have our best overall record. These young ladies are so impressive.
In Varsity, Junior Michelle Njoku was the 9th overall speaker and her partner Pernelle DeSouza was 13th, despite their team finishing only 2-3. Zara (SWW) was the 11th overall speaker.