Special to Harker News by Mayra Flores De Marcotte
It was a strong finish for the 29 Harker students who qualified for end-of-the-year varsity state or national championships in speech and debate.
For the second year in a row, Pranav Reddy, grade 12, was named the national Lincoln-Douglas Debate Champion.
The tournament, hosted by the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA), was held in Las Vegas April 11-13.
Reddy’s winning debate was on the topic of minimum wage and whether it should be substantially increased. The senior successfully affirmed the proposal.
Reddy won two national titles in April – the NDCA National Championships and the Tournament of Champions.
“His achievements are truly historic,” said Greg Achten, Harker’s Lincoln-Douglas team coach. “Winning one national championship tournament takes hard work, incredible intellectual range and exceptional speaking skills. To win three national titles over the course of two years is simply an unheard of accomplishment. In the history of Lincoln-Douglas debate, no student from any school has ever achieved this level of success.”
Reddy entered the 2014-15 debate season as the No. 1-ranked Lincoln-Douglas debater in the nation. He lived up to that ranking with a pair of winning premier national championship tournaments.
This recent success follows a successful 2013-14 season in which Reddy became the first Harker Lincoln-Douglas debater to win the prestigious NDCA National Championships. Reddy built on this success his senior year, being named the top speaker at five of the first six tournaments he attended and winning the Glenbrooks tournament in November, the largest tournament of the fall semester.
Along with these, Reddy also won the Harvard Westlake tournament in January and entered the championship season as the only student to win two majors in the regular season. He is the first student ever to win this tournament twice. Reddy is also only the second student in the history of Lincoln-Douglas debate to win the NDCA National Championships and the Tournament of Champions in the same year.
Joining him in his debating success, the Harker speech and debate team also had an amazing showing at the Tournament of Champions. The event, hosted by the University of Kentucky April 24-27, is one of the premier national championships and included students from more than 200 different schools and 30 states.
Harker was awarded the first-place sweepstakes award after successfully finishing all four of the debate divisions and the individual events category, making the Harker team the most successful overall squad to attend the tournament.
The policy debate duo of Panny Shan, grade 11, and Ayush Midha, grade 12, made it to the octofinal debate round. Public forum debaters Nikhil Kishore, grade 12, Vamsi Gadiraju, grade 12, Abhinav Ketineni, grade 11, and Jasmine Liu, grade 11, were in double octofinals and the team of Alexander Lam, grade 10, and David Jin, grade 11, were in the octofinals. Aditya Dhar, grade 10, made it to the semifinals of congressional debate and Arjun Narayan, grade 11, was a quarterfinalist in extemporaneous speaking. Reddy, Midha and Lam also were recognized with outstanding individual speaker awards.
In the 44-year history of the event, no other school has ever had students reach elimination rounds in more than three of the events. Harker had students excel in all five.