On Sept 20th - 22nd, the WUDL Travel Team participated in the Georgetown Day School Invitational. This tournament is the kick-off of our travel schedule, and indeed is the first tournament of the year for most national circuit programs on the East Coast. The tournament is a bid qualifier for the Tournament of Champions, the most rigorous, competitive tournament available for high school debaters.
Competitors travel far and wide to compete at this tournament, including teams from as far away as Texas, Michigan, and Florida. Most of the competitors attending this tournament attended prestigious summer debate institutes for most of the summer, and have extensive coaching and travel resources available to them. Most are juniors and seniors looking to win trophies at national circuit tournaments.
This year, the WUDL Travel Team joined these prestigious opponents in the winner's circle.
The WUDL first entered this tournament three years ago with 4 teams (DuVal, Banneker, and DCI). We were very excited that the partnerships of Sophomore Ernest Ntangu and Senior Aisha Taylor (DuVal), and 8th graders Addie Lowenstein and Paola Almendarez (DCI) won 2/7 rounds, a league high at the time.
Last year, we entered 9 teams from Bowie, Kenmoor, DuVal, Washington Latin, Columbia Heights, and Charles Flowers. Junior Ernest Ntangu and Senior Jonathan Collins led the way for WUDL with a 3/4 record.
This year, 14 local teams entered the tournament from 7 schools. Senior Ernest Ntangu and Junior Justin Sayoto (DuVal) were the most successful local public school team in history, finishing with a 5-2 record and advancing to elimination rounds. They were not alone, as Freshman Aisha Bah (Roosevelt) won an individual Speaker Award, another first in the Varsity Division.
Ernest and Justin have been working all summer towards this singular goal, attending the Georgetown Summer Debate Institute and the Ornstein Summer Debate Institute and working feverishly to perfect their arguments, especially a timely case about Arm Sales to the Ukraine. Congrats to the boys for their hard work!
The rest of the travel team also had a strong weekend. Every team won at least one round, Sophomores Paola Almendarez and Lola Rogin (DCI), Seniors Kevin Tezi and Munyang Tengen (Bowie), and Juniors Mak Aneke and Sandra Romualdo (DuVal) all finished 3/4. For some context, in 2017, we won 5 rounds total (1.2/team). Last year, we won 17 rounds (1.9/team). This year, we won 26 rounds (2.2 per team).
I was excited to see observers from Capital City PCS (3) and Browne EC (19!) who came to get a sample of what the competition at this level looks like to get ready for the rest of the season.
Two special shout outs:
1. Many thanks to Jon Sharp at GDS, and the tournament staff (Judy Butler, Brian Manuel, and Aubrey Semple) for running an efficient and welcoming tournament. We love supporting such a great tournament just up the street, and appreciate the hospitality.
2. A huge shout out to the legion of volunteers who stepped up to help the Travel Team: (21!)
Jess Berenson, Darrian Carroll, Eric Clarke, Greg Dunn, Danielle Dupree, Cullen Finley, Michael Fuentes, Jeff Hallock, Jaden Kuykendahl, Selah Lee-Bey, Onica Matsika, Patrick McMullen, Jessica Moore, Renee Reneau, Zahari Richter, Matt Rose, Lily Rubenstein, Keoni Scott-Reid, Bilqiis Shiekh-Issa, Guillermo Vidaurre, and Shimeng Zhang all came out to support the WUDL, adopt a team as coach for the weekend,, and ensure our students were prepared and confident for their rounds.
WUDL Alumni Danielle Dupree, Keoni Scott-Reid, Eric Clarke, and Bilqiis Shiekh-Issa all came back to judge and coach this weekend!
This is one of the big ways that we can even the playing field at competitions like this--bringing more coaching and card-cutting resources to support our competitors than their opponents. Big tournaments like this are intimidating and difficult, but thanks for the hard work of these folks, we will never be out-coached!
Also a shout out to Jonathan Geldof, Maggie Ryan, and Aster Smith, who helped prepare teams before the tournament but were unable to attend in person!
We'll follow the Travel Team's next adventure at Wake Forest!