Debate Team Achieves Success at State Championship

By Will Ledig ‘17

Before the dedicated students of the Strake Jesuit debate team were able to take a much deserved Spring Break, they competed at the Texas Forensic League State Tournament in Pflugerville. As always, they were accompanied by their dedicated coaches, including Mr. Jerry Crist, whom I sat down with to discuss the team’s performance.

To start, the TFA State Tournament is one of the largest and most competitive debate tournaments, with hundreds of competitors from over two hundred schools across Texas. As the largest event, Lincoln-Douglas debate featured over 200 competitors alone, while Public Forum debate, in which SJ debaters also competed, included around 130 teams.

In Lincoln Douglas, SJ debaters had an impressive showing in preliminary rounds, with many of the students winning more of the six rounds than they lost. With this performance, seniors Sean McCormick, Ryan Britton, and Kyle Fennessy and sophomore Matthew Chen placed in the top 32, thus qualifying for elimination rounds. With these four, Strake Jesuit had more debaters obtain a spot in elimination rounds than any other school in Lincoln-Douglas. With an even more outstanding performance, senior and team captain Sean McCormick reached semifinals of the tournament but lost on a very close two to one decision from the three judges.

According to Mr. Crist, “This year’s performance at state has exceeded the team’s performance at the tournament in the past two years, which is very good for the team and gives us hope for the future.” In predicting the team’s future in the coming years, Mr. Crist specifically cited the example of the Public Forum team of Joseph Donowho and Joseph Dowdall, who, although freshmen, managed to finish the tournament with an impressive 4-2 record. Additionally, sophomore Matthew Chen both achieved a 5-1 record in preliminary rounds and reached elimination rounds, a commendable performance from a sophomore.

As for the rest of the season, one major tournament is left, namely the Tournament of Champions, undeniably the most exclusive and competitive tournament of all. In May, the top of SJ’s debaters, lead by Sean McCormick, will head to the Tournament of Champions with aspirations to repeat the same success achieved at the State Tournament. “Hopefully someone like Sean can step up at the [Tournament of Champions] and place higher than anyone else in the team’s history, something that’s very possible given Sean’s performance this year,” Mr. Crist exclaimed.