Harker’s Public Forum (PF) team kicked off November by winning the overall team sweepstakes award and taking home the tournament championship at the Minneapple Debate Tournament, held Nov. 1-2 at Apple Valley High School in Minnesota.
Having been successful competitors in this tournament during their years at Harker, Akshay Jagadeesh ’12 and Pranav Sharma ’13 accompanied the Harker students to the tournament.
Debating the merits of the NSA domestic surveillance program, four Harker PF teams made it to the elimination rounds of this prestigious tournament, comprising more than 100 teams from numerous states.
In the first elimination round, the bracket set juniors Andrew Jin and David Lin up to meet fellow juniors Nikhil Kishore and Vamsi Gadiraju. This automatically advanced Jin-Lin and earned both teams bids to the Tournament of Champions. Aadyot Bhatnagar and Avik Wadhwa, both grade 11, and Sorjo Banerjee and Mohnish Shah, both grade 10, also won their first rounds to earn spots in the Sweet 16 and qualifying legs to the TOC.
All three remaining Harker teams won their octofinal rounds and advanced to the Elite 8, where the bracket again pitted Harker against Harker. Bhatnagar-Wadhwa advanced over Banerjee-Shah, while Jin-Lin beat The Blake School (Minnesota), leaving two Harker teams in the top four at the tournament.
Jin-Lin faced a tough battle against last year’s national semifinalist from Hawken School (Ohio) and was ultimately defeated, while Bhatnagar-Wadhwa prevailed against a team from Trinity Prep (Florida) to advance to finals.
In a final round in front of the tournament, Bhatnagar-Wadhwa defeated Hawken on a 4-1 decision to earn the tournament title and clinch the school sweepstakes award for Harker.
At the conclusion of preliminary rounds, Bhatnagar also earned recognition as the third best individual speaker out of more than 200 competitors, while Lin was recognized as fourth overall.