Quizbowl, Debate, and Forensics Head to Nationals

Left+to+right%3A+Grady+Trexler%2C+Noah+Ratliff%2C+Tara+Ram+Mohan%2C+Joey+Mistretta%2C+and+Samra+Kanwal%0APhoto%3A+Dan+Brown
Left to right: Grady Trexler, Noah Ratliff, Tara Ram Mohan, Joey Mistretta, and Samra Kanwal
Photo: Dan Brown

Left to right: Grady Trexler, Noah Ratliff, Tara Ram Mohan, Joey Mistretta, and Samra Kanwal Photo: Dan Brown

Left to right: Grady Trexler, Noah Ratliff, Tara Ram Mohan, Joey Mistretta, and Samra Kanwal Photo: Dan Brown

Kate Farmer and Joey Mistretta

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During Memorial Day weekend, six students brought their sharpest minds and wittiest tongues to Washington DC to represent Maggie Walker in the National Catholic Forensics League debate and forensics competition. The six competitors secured their spots in the national competition after earning top places at both district competitions throughout the past school year and the states tournament in Culpeper, Virginia in early March.

Noah Ratliff (‘20) and Grady Trexler (‘19) brought their best arguments to the Lincoln-Douglas debate category, clashing over the topic of whether bystanders have a moral obligation to act instances of injustice. In this category, the debaters stood alone against their opponent, arguing the moral and ethical reasons surrounding whether their assigned position on the topic (yes, bystanders should act or no, they shouldn’t) was the superior position in five different preliminary rounds. Grady Trexler went the extra mile to make Maggie Walker proud, earning his way onto the final roster of the top 48 Lincoln-Douglas debaters, then breaking his way into the finals round. Grady ended his commendable weekend of superior debating with an astounding five wins to just one loss.

In the Public Forum debate category, Tara Ram Mohan (‘19) and Samra Kanwal (‘19) worked as a team to debate whether sanctuary cities should exist in the United States. In Public Forum, the pair squared off against five times against other pairs of debaters, and unlike in the moral-driven Lincoln-Douglas category, based their arguments on their critical interpretations of hard facts, raw statistics, constitutional backings, and concrete evidence.

Along with the debaters, Larry Jia (‘19) and Joey Mistretta (‘19) competed in the Forensics category of Extemporaneous Speech. In this category, speakers enter the competition blind, without being given any prior knowledge of their topic. In each of their four rounds, the speakers randomly drew cards which contained their prompt (which is always based on current events), and then had exactly thirty minutes to prepare and memorize a speech based on that prompt without using any outside sources. They then presented their seven-minute speech to a panel of judges completely from memory.

Lincoln-Douglas captain Kamya Sanjay (‘19) was especially pleased with the students’ performance, saying, “I am very proud of my team and all of the personal development they have undergone themselves this year, and I look forward to working with this group of talented individuals next year.”

On Friday, May 25th to Sunday, May 27th, the MLWGS Quizbowl team competed in the High School National Championship Tournament  in Atlanta, Georgia, finishing out their long and laborious season. Captain Catherine Qian (‘18) led the school’s four-person dream team attending the national competition, together with fellow seniors Kelin Carpenter (‘18), Anuj Kotak (‘18) and Owen Peck (‘18).  The event, hosted by National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC, welcomed over 350 teams, with the winning team hailing from Piano West in Texas.

While the MLWGS Quizbowl team did not place in the top ten, they nonetheless returned home proudly with a placing in the top 15% of all competing teams. Commented Owen Peck (‘18), “The competition is incredibly stiff at the national level, but we made the playoffs and also won one game in playoffs, so I would consider that a success. Our hard work and studying paid off.” Anuj Kotak (‘18) agreed, reflecting that “Though there were games where we definitely could have played better, our overall performance was incredible.” Such high scores were not easily achieved. Continued Kotak, “The highlight of Nationals was MW qualifying for playoffs by winning a neck-in-neck game against North Hollywood on the last question, with only two seconds left on the clock!”

Looking back on a lengthy Quizbowl season, from regional and state competitions to Battle of the Brains TV appearances, the team encountered some bumps in the road. “We were kind of inconsistent this season,” admitted Peck (‘18), “but I knew if we focused and worked together we could perform well.” Despite relative ups and downs, most team members still consider it an admirable success. A few weeks prior, the team placed 1st in three different state competitions, establishing themselves as one of Virginia’s most formidable Quizbowl teams. An unexpected victory this season came in scholarship form. In April, captain Catherine Qian (‘18) was awarded the 2018 Morgan Costa-Rhodes Memorial Scholarship by the Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence (PACE) for her outstanding achievements in and outside of the quizbowl realm.

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